1996, Graduated from Division of Instrumental Music, Piano, Sookmyung Women's University
2001, Graduated from Division of Jazz Piano, Berklee College of Music
2003, Got a master's degree in Jazz Piano from Manhattan School of Music
Just like the atmosphere of ‘Journey,’ the second track on her first album, Young Joo Song is a person who is kind and warm. She has played as the chief pianist of the Concert Big Band in the Manhattan School of Music, and performed in New York with virtuosos like George Garzone, Bob Minzer and so on. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Young Joo Song (Song), a senior we are proud of.
SMT: As a jazz pianist, please explain your recent jobs.
SONG: Fist of all, I’m a jazz pianist, so I love to perform jazz. I have released five albums, including three formal ones, a Christmas album and a psalm. Also, sometimes I have performed in some jazz clubs. Secondly, I have taught students as a professor at Baekseok University and as an instructor at Seoul National University, Seoul Institute of the arts and Dongduk Women’s University. Third, I have performed with various singers of Korean pop. For example, I participated in Rain’s world tour and recently arranged ‘By the grace’ with Kim Bum Soo.
SMT: You majored in classical piano, but changed your specialty. If you had some special reasons for doing so, please, tell us.
SONG: I have always enjoyed something new and extemporary, and am attracted to things like that. Truth to be told, when I studied classical music, I felt that might not be cut out for this type. That’s why I preferred to play piano with something new rather than classical masterpieces, which tended to be rigid. Along the way, I listened to jazz, felt it was something special, and then thought “I’d like to do that.” when I was a senior.
SMT: When you were a student at Sookmyung Women’s University or Berkeley College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, how was your life?
SONG: When I studied in Korea, I enjoyed trying something different. In the practice room, I used to play existing music to be different. Also, I did a lot of exterior activities like recording with some teams. When I reflected on that time, I realized that people whom I met at that time have helped my dream come true. Moreover, studying abroad was wonderful for me because I could study what I wanted to do as much as I wanted. If studying abroad has any merits, I think that is its circumstantial atmosphere. I could experience real jazz with jazz performers in the home of jazz.
SMT: What kind of satisfaction do you feel as a jazz pianist?
SONG: I have enjoyed ‘Joint concerts,’ yet sometimes this is not that easy because many players are proud of their professional fields. Even if there are some difficulties, I’d like to work together with various genres of music. Whenever I hold a joint concert, with either classical music or Korean traditional music, I feel that music could lead to understanding each other, and then the emotion makes me happy.
SMT: What is your vision of your future?
SONG: When I was a young student, I had a dream; becoming a world jazz artist. However, while studying abroad, I felt frustrated by my limitation as an Asian who plays jazz, traditionally the music of African-Americans. As time goes by, I could realize I had ‘my own’ abilities, even though that time was so harsh. So, I decided not to mimic others, and to keep and develop my own style. The motivation that got me through was my passion. Passion makes people try again despite many failures. I believe that the mind is the most important, and I am eager not to give up my passion. In the future, I want to follow my heart, performing jazz and trying to make my future family happy.
SMT: Finally, please advise Sookmyungians as a senior.
SONG: While studying abroad, I felt that foreigners tend to enjoy various fields, not only their major but also completely different fields, such as being an amateur jazz pianist. I totally respect them. Actually, they often like to experience something different, new and special. I consider them as balanced. They tend to think freely, and seem to know how to enjoy their life. I think that is very important. When I was a student in the U.S.A., there would be only Korean students in the practice rooms on the weekends. However, not all of the Koreans were in the top class in the school despite spending a lot of time practicing. I think Koreans may not be accustomed to enjoying their life without doing something serious. Yet, I experienced that enjoying something different helps me refresh and learn important things. So I’d like to recommend you try to experience something new.