Call it trauma. I still remember the day my dad bought me a customized grand piano with the money he saved for my “music interest.” He covered my eyes when I got home from school, walked me into our living room, and expected me to smile or scream in cheer. Instead, I frowned then cried as I saw my future of being forced to play on that instrument everyday for the next decade. And I did, for another 10 years, without feeling much joy from numbing my fingertips on the keyboards.
Every time I was sent to perform piano, I wished I could tell my parents, “I’m only doing this for you.” It was deadly important to me to make my parents proud. I thought I owed them that.
Stories about young music talents often trigger my PTSD. And my heart refused to stop diving into traumatic conspiracies until I got to see the smiley face of Liam Ng, the eight-year-old violin prodigy in Edmonton.
Ng fell in love with playing the violin when he was about to turn six, and it didn’t take much time for his family and teacher to discover his overflowing talent. Taking a two-week leave from his Grade 3 schoolwork, Ng is currently on a trip with his dad in Brussels, preparing for his upcoming performances in Vienna and London, England.
“I’m so happy to see the old buildings here, they are very pretty,” says Ng, while showing me the photo diary he prepared for school.
Ng then whispered to me that I have the same name as his younger sister, Sophia Ng.
“My sister is an iPad kid. She doesn’t like it when I play the violin. She says it’s too loud, then runs away with her iPad. Maybe not enjoying classical music is a Sophia thing,” Ng chuckled, saying he was joking at the last part.
Angus Ng, the father of the family, is very proud of his loved ones. He told me that Ng’s mother, Lin Tian, plays the piano alongside her son when they are at home. Like me, Tian was raised to play piano in China, and understands how traumatic it can be for a kid to have their parents force their interests.
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“I hope Liam can have as much fun as possible on these trips,” says Angus. “Lin and I sometimes worry that Liam will get too competitive with the violin. We don’t want him to be stressed. It’s a wonderful thing that he loves what he does, but he’s still a kid. He’s supposed to have fun with friends, play video games and have a life other than playing the violin.”
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Liam Ng’s eyes sparkled. He says he wants to become a violin soloist in the orchestra. His dad smiles fondly, and I can tell it’s going to be all good for this family.
The piece Ng is performing is Wieniawski. Op. 18. Nº. 3. The awards ceremony and performance showcase will be at the Gläserner Saal, Musikverein in Vienna, Austria on April 13 and the Elgar Room at Royal Albert Hall on April 18. The family also gave special thanks to Ng’s teacher Svitlana Remniakova, Professor (and Top 40 Under 40 alumnus) Guillaume Tardif of the University of Alberta, and Professor Daniele Lisboa of Concordia University, for their ongoing support.