SNYO SPOTLIGHT – KOH MI YO
20 February 2023
Kayden Yap (SNYO Oboist) speaks to Koh Mi Yo (SNYO Trumpeter) about her likes, hobbies, as well as her musical and SNYO experiences!
Mi Yo (left) playing alongside tutors at the SNYO Trumpet Day, 9 December 2022, SNYO Studios.
Kayden: What was your first experience with music like?
Mi Yo: I can’t really remember since I was very young, but I know that I first interacted with music when I was 4 during an electone class. I always looked forward to attending the lessons every week as I really enjoyed it.
Kayden: How was your journey learning music after that initial experience?
Mi Yo: I lived overseas for a period of time, so I stopped music classes for a while, but I still played piano for fun. After coming back to Singapore, I picked up the trumpet in my primary school brass band when I was 9 years old. From then on, my passion for the trumpet grew, and I continued playing in bands and orchestras.
Kayden: Who is your favourite composer? And what is your favourite work from him/her?
Mi Yo: My favourite composer is Dvořák, and my favourite work is his 8th Symphony.
Kayden: I see. What is your favourite instrument besides the trumpet?
Mi Yo: Violin!
Kayden: Wow! Why did you like learning the trumpet so much?
Mi Yo: The trumpet can produce a wide range of timbres, and it can be found in many different genres, such as classical music, jazz, or even pop music.
Kayden: After learning the trumpet for so many years, what is the most difficult thing you find about learning it?
Mi Yo: Having a big ego when playing the trumpet. (laughs) A conductor once told me that I should have a bigger ego when playing the trumpet, and I am still working on it now.
Kayden: I can see why the conductor made such a comment though, given the common stereotypes associated with the instrument.
Mi Yo: Agreed!
Kayden: Now, let us move on to questions about your experience in SNYO. How long have you been in the orchestra?
Mi Yo: I have been in the orchestra since 2015, when I was 11 years old.
Kayden: What made you decide to join SNYO?
Mi Yo: Previously, my older brother was in the SNYO, so I attended some of the SNYO concerts. I was so fascinated by the sounds the orchestra could produce that I wanted to be part of the orchestral music-making process, hence I decided to join SNYO.
Kayden: Being in the orchestra for such a long time, what is your fondest memory of SNYO?
Mi Yo: My fondest memory would be the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) & Singapore National Youth Orchestra side-by-side concert last year, when I had the opportunity to play alongside the SSO at the SSO Gala: Ray Chen plays Sibelius concert. I am still very inspired by how Jon Dante (SSO Principal Trumpet) played the trumpet solo at the opening of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at the Exhibition. It sounded superb!
Kayden: Do you remember how you had prepared for this side-by-side concert?
Mi Yo: I am glad to have a sectional practice with SSO trumpeter David Smith who guided me. I also practiced the parts myself and kept listening to the recordings to familiarise myself with the piece.
SSO Gala: Ray Chen Plays Sibelius Concert, 8 April 2022, Esplanade Concert Hall. Can you spot Mi Yo in the trumpet section?
Photo: Jack Yam
Kayden: How about any funny moments in SNYO?
Mi Yo: I remember playing a piece where trumpets only had a total of 10 notes. For one of the rehearsals, we sat for half an hour not playing a single note, but were still diligently counting our rests. However, the conductor stopped a total of 3 times right before our entry!
Kayden: That must have been extremely annoying! (laughs) Moving on, who are some musicians that you look up to?
Mi Yo: I look up to so many musicians! One of them is my trumpet tutor Mr Kenneth Lun. I think his playing is very cool! I love listening to Wynton Marsalis as well! I attended his concert a few years back, and was very impressed by the types of sound a trumpet could make. His playing was inspiring!
Kayden: Share with us any meaningful experiences you have gained from SNYO?
Mi Yo: SNYO has really encouraged me to improve my trumpet playing. Listening back to past concerts, I would be amazed at how I am now able to play something that seemed so impossible when I first received my part. My playing has really improved by leaps and bounds because of the repertoire and the guidance we have in SNYO.
Mi Yo (right) performing at the SNYO Concert on 17 June 2022, Esplanade Concert Hall.
Kayden: That’s great! Share with us some happy musical moments in your life?
Mi Yo: One of those moments is when I listen back to previous concert recordings. I have a sense of satisfaction when I hear how much we have improved from the first rehearsal.
Kayden: Tell us what is something you like to eat after a day of rehearsals?
Mi Yo: Ramen!
Kayden: Interesting! How about your favourite pastimes and hobbies?
Mi Yo: I like to binge watch dramas or variety shows.
Kayden: What type of shows do you watch?
Mi Yo: My favourite drama that I have watched is Hospital Playlist! It is a rather realistic Korean Drama telling the story of five doctors who have been friends since they entered medical school. Despite not having a music related career, they still come together and have jamming sessions as a band during their free time. It is so heart-warming to see music bringing them together.
Kayden: What is one phrase that you live by?
Mi Yo: Regret is more painful than failure, so just go for it!
Kayden: Finally, describe SNYO in 3 words!
Mi Yo: Inspiring, Exciting, Nurturing!
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The Singapore National Youth Orchestra organises auditions regularly throughout the year! Audition details and guidelines can be found at www.snyo.org.sg/audition.