Musician of the Month – January

📝By Eric Xiao

Musician of the Month is a series of SJAM Music blogs that highlights the accomplishments and experiences of one outstanding SJAM Music student each month. The Musician of the Month for January is Kenny Lee!

Kenny is an underdog within the SJAM Music community. He has not been as active in SJAM Music classes and clubs as other Grade 12’s, but trust us when we say that he has an incredible aptitude for music and deserves high recognition for it.

His journey into the field of music began in 2008, when he started learning the violin. He was friends with the Choi family at the time, more specifically brothers Jake Choi (a legendary SJAM co-prime) and Justin Choi (who currently attends SJAM), and much of Kenny’s inspiration for playing the violin came from them. By attending one of their concerts from the Youth Orchestra (which Kenny would later join), he immediately fell in love with classical music. From then on, his passion for music continued to spark and grow.

Although Kenny only plays one instrument—the violin—he is an absolute master at it. He has obtained countless successes with his violin playing, including—but not limited to—becoming a (legendary) Concertmaster for the Youth Orchestra and winning many Kiwanis Music Festival awards, where he has reached the provincial level several times. This violin prodigy has reached various peaks and highlights throughout his career.

Not only was Kenny heavily involved in the Youth Orchestra, he has been part of other bands and music groups inside and outside of school. At SJAM, Kenny was part of their first-ever String Ensemble from Grade 10 up until the COVID-19 pandemic, where he “carried” the group to earn Gold at the Kiwanis Music Festival in 2019, and he has also been a member of SJAM’s Music Council for 2 consecutive years, organizing many music events and activities. Outside of school, Kenny has also been part of a quartet.

Exposure to music helped greatly change Kenny’s perspective on the subject. Throughout his musical journey, he was able to see how music changed throughout the years and introduced various new genres like EDM, rap, and pop (genres in which he isn’t very interested; exception is K-pop, which he really enjoys).

Music, especially classical music, has provided countless benefits to Kenny, one of the most significant ones being relaxation. Classical music is oftentimes a very soothing genre of music that helps Kenny relax from stressful times at school and in his life as well as ameliorate his mental health. As Kenny sums it up,

“Music is a way for me to relax and de-stress in moments.”

By being part of ensembles, especially the Youth Orchestra, not only did they help Kenny improve his teamwork abilities, they also helped stress to him the importance of listening to others play around you. He explains that not only is this crucial for improving collaboration and leadership skills, but it also makes the overall music sound more in-sync and much better to the ear.

Outside of music, Kenny loves to dabble in art. He enjoys drawing pixel art in his spare time, has worked as a graphic designer for a couple of student-run organizations, and recently dove into web design and development with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Like many of his friends, he is an avid PC gamer, enjoying games such as League of Legends and CSGO. He is also very passionate about business, more specifically marketing and economics, and most importantly, photography, where he likes to go outside and take pictures of landscape scenery and weather.

“[Photography] motivates me to go outside,” he says.

For beginner musicians, Kenny only gives one word of advice: PRACTICE. Despite how obvious and straightforward this sounds, many musicians continue to neglect this aspect for improving their performances. Kenny even has a tip for practicing, stating that

“when you practice, it’s all about taking time.”

He also explains that

“if you don’t practice, you rush the tempo, and you rush yourself, and that will affect the overall performance,”

leading him to conclude that

“having good practice will result in good performance.”

In the future, Kenny yearns to pursue a career related to graphic design. He has already applied to his dream university program, the University of Waterloo’s Global Business and Digital Arts Program, and he is still awaiting for a response. Let’s pray that his postsecondary wishes come true!

Thank you Kenny for answering our blog interview questions, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for us in the future! Stay tuned for February’s Musician of the Month blog everyone 🙂

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