Principal Percussion  Jessie Chua

Jessie Chua, Principal Percussion


MUSIC REALLY BEGAN FOR ME IN... My childhood, listening to Chinese pop songs over the radio, jingles on TV, etc. I got a toy piano as a gift when I was four or five years old and I started playing with it and figuring out familiar nursery rhymes and tunes. Eventually I asked for piano lessons (yes I asked for those, not the other way round) when I was eight years old and never looked back since then. At 13, I joined the school band and got to know about percussion and I really looked forward to every band practice! Yes, hi, band geek alert.

I AM CURRENTLY... Working full-time as a music teacher – teaching piano, drums, percussion, music theory, and music appreciation (music classes for babies and toddlers). I am also a part-time foodie/ YouTube-watcher/ housechores-er.

I GRADUATED... From S.J.K (C) Foon Yew 5. Errr, what’s S.J.K. (C), you ask?

1) S – Sekolah (School);
2) J – Jenis (Type);
3) K – Kebangsaan (National);
4) Foon Yew (Name of School – sounds funky because it’s in Cantonese);
5) 5 (5th branch of the Foon Yew primary schools)

This is why some of my friends might have gotten the answer “some Malaysian primary school” when you asked me which primary school I was from. Ok, in all seriousness, I graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts with a BA (Hon) in Music (Classical Performance).

THE INSTRUMENT THAT SPEAKS TO ME MOST... The voice, speaks, get it? It is the most accessible “instrument” and all of us have it! The human voice can be so versatile. Whoever said you have to sing to be able to speak with your voice? Spoken words contain all sorts of inflexions and tones, and these things revolve around us daily. Saying nice things to people around you is making good use of your voice too. Well, if you have a nice singing voice then that’s a bonus so good on you!

IN MY SPARE TIME... I really enjoy cooking, swimming, yoga, chilling with friends, busting out old/ new scores to sight read just for fun. I also find vacuuming and mopping the house with Justin Timberlake’s songs highly therapeutic.

MY INSPIRATIONS ARE... My parents. Corny stuff aside, they’re really the most hardworking people that I’m met in my life. I’m really thankful to have them as my driving force. They don’t attend that many of my performances and they might not fully understand what I’m practising half the time, but I really do appreciate their support and undying love.

And also my students – these precious little minds come in with close to no musical knowledge and they’re able to start recognising notes/playing simple tunes before you know it. Their thirst for knowledge really inspire me to be a better teacher/ musician/ person altogether, to always have that hunger for knowledge.

MY FAVOURITE FOOD(S)... HOW DO I EVEN START? By far this is the trickiest question. I have a sweet tooth so I really enjoy waffles, or chocolate, chocolate cake, molten chocolate cake/ chocolate ice cream, basically anything chocolate-y, you get the drift… But usually I try to limit myself to these sweets intake and I really like my hearty green vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, peas, spinach, you name it. One staple in my fridge though, CARROTS!

THE BEST THING IN LIFE IS... Being alive. Family, love, music, food, nature, all that good stuff.

IF NOT MUSIC... I don’t know what I would do. I considered mass communications after JC, so that might have been it. Another possibility would have been studying in NIE and then maybe teaching Chinese in a primary school?

I THINK YOUNG MUSICIANS TODAY... Should count themselves lucky because there’s such an abundance in technology! They can just hop on to YouTube and type in the title of a piece and find out how it sounds like, unlike during my time when recordings were still mainly in the form of CDs. We really did our fair share in sight-reading for real, no cheating.


*Published 30 January 2014.