Classical Musician Interview #1: Grace Lim
Interview with Grace Lim
1) How long have you played?
I have been playing the piano for 13 years.
2) How did you start playing your instrument?
Apparently, I begged my mom to start playing the piano, but I don’t quite really remember. Also, since my dad is a pastor, my parents wanted me to start piano lessons to serve the church in the future.
3) What motivates you to wake up in the morning and start playing your instrument?
To be honest, I’m motivated to practice because I have a certain deadline for a competition or a performance. I don’t have the best practice habit so I need deadlines. Nonetheless, I think it’s really exciting to learn the notes, analyze harmonic progressions, and create musical phrasing. Each composer has his/her own language, and it’s so rewarding as I start to understand the composer’s intention, but also add my own interpretation.
4) Describe your fondest musical memory.
Last Christmas, I was invited to play the piano for a faculty party. I played in the corner of the room, but the music filled the air. As I was playing Chopin’s Nocturne in Db Major, this woman came up to me, crying, saying that my music reminded me of her mother. When I played a rag, an old man came up to me with a huge smile on his face, describing his younger days. I was so privileged to have brought these wonderful memories to the people. Music is powerful, really. As a plus, I also got really good food.
5) What was your worst mistake and how did you overcome it?
Many musicians can probably testify the horrors of a memory slip during a performance. I wish I could say that I have never had a memory slip, but that’s not the truth. There have been many times when I just forgot a whole section, came in at a different time, etc. However, the important thing is to act like nothing happened and just keep going. Mentally, I need to let go of the fact that I messed up and continue with the music.
6) How do you balance music with other obligations?
I think the most important thing is not to find my identity in music. Yes, I play the piano, but that is not all that is to me. With that in check, I can be involved with the church, campus ministry, and my social life. Practically speaking, I plan out my practice schedule and always rest one day of the week.
7) Were you always going to be a musician? If not, what were you going to be?
No, not really. I always kept music as a side hobby until I hit high school. I wanted to be a dentist when I was little, but as I started to advance in music, I started to reconsider my career choice.
8) What or who triggered your passion to become a classical musician?
My high school teacher, Yung Mee Rhee, has influenced and fueled my passion for music. She has allowed me to see the beauty in classical music by exploring the depth of emotion, physical technique, and harmonies.
9) In what way do you think classical music has influenced you?
Classical music has allowed me to discover more about myself. It revealed to me my negative thought processes. Sometimes, we just allow our thoughts to wander; however, I learned to control my thoughts in a positive way to bring out the best in me. Not only that, music has allowed me to fully express myself in ways I cannot do with words. When I perform, I feel the most vulnerable yet so free—my soul dances.
10) Have you ever considered stop playing and start something different?
Yes, yes, and yes. I wanted to quit so many times, especially during college. Whenever my intrinsic motivation got shifted to extrinsic motivation, I felt stressed out. Also, some of my music friends switched majors, which made me really think about reality: how am I going to make a living? Should music just be a hobby? I genuinely thought about switching to Psychology or pre-dental.
11) What is your musical guilty pleasure?
My musical guilty pleasure is listening to Disney and Glee music. I usually dance and sing along to it. It’s my silly, diva side ;)