Minzz: "There’s a difference between practicing something that’s already written like a classical piano piece versus playing by ear and refining my own arrangements for recording."
Issue VIII Art & Artist Interview Interview Empower
Interviewed by Aditi Upadhyaya
21st April, 2021
Music has always been a huge part of Minnz's life, ever since she was a little kid. She started playing piano when she was 5 and realized by the age of 12, that she had perfect pitch and could play songs by ear. Growing up, she participated in classical piano competitions and received numerous awards. She was also one of the youngest in her community to receive an ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) piano performance diploma at the age of 14. While she absolutely adores performing classical music, her greatest joy has actually always been reinterpreting songs and music from her favorite movies, and sharing that with the people around her.
She went to Stanford University for her Bachelor’s degree and worked at a handful of technology companies as a marketer. In 2019, she started recording piano music and began releasing them on music streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) That year, she also started a YouTube channel where she uploaded her piano pieces for fun. Two years later, Minnz Piano is at 1M+ streams and views across Spotify and YouTube!
What made you start considering playing the piano as a serious career option?
Minnz: Minnz Piano started as a passion project. Now I love what I do so much that I’m doing it full-time! It was only a couple months ago that I made the decision to pursue music seriously. I realized what I wanted to do was pursue my passion for music in my everyday life. Playing piano is and always will be my happy place. Through sharing my music, I want to shape my own profession and strive to become a unique artist.
I'm continually motivated by all the comments of listeners saying that my music has helped them in some way--whether that's overcoming personal obstacles, reminiscing in nostalgic music, concentrating, or simply relaxing after work. This is my greatest reward!
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Minnz: Genres I love the most: Classical, Pop, Jazz, and Film Soundtrack music. In terms of piano styles, I may be most inspired by the music of Richard Clayderman and Joe Hisaishi. Rich in romance and whimsy, when listening to their music, you can’t help but feel relaxed and transported to a different world. That’s also something I hope to provide with my music.
Describe a time when you were having trouble practicing a certain piece. What did you learn from it and how did you finally understand it ?
Minnz: There’s a difference between practicing something that’s already written like a classical piano piece versus playing by ear and refining my own arrangements for recording. Lots of discipline goes into perfecting a score and performing music as it’s written. For that, some of my quick tips are: practice left and right hands separately, then together! Also, ALWAYS practice with a metronome! For my own renditions, particularly newly released songs or ones I’m unfamiliar with, I take care to jot down extra notes, transcribe any difficult passages, and practice the song’s melodies in their entirety a couple times through before recording, to make sure I stay true to the original compositions. After recording, I go through the entire piece and nitpick over things like dynamics and placements of particular notes. Regardless of the genre, I always try to understand the original artist’s vision for their songs, and what the music’s message is. I try to research the artist’s inspirations, and for movie soundtracks, try to watch the films and understand the contexts for when songs appear.
How do you pick the songs which you record covers of to post on YouTube and social media?
Minnz: A general rule of thumb I set for myself is that I must play songs I genuinely enjoy listening to, and would listen to myself if a piano version existed. I also greatly value the thoughtful feedback from my subscribers! For YouTube, I generally create long form content (playlists), so either albums or soundtracks with 6 or more songs I both like and would work well together in a collection. On social media, anything goes really - catchy songs, classical excerpts, you name it! I am also a Swiftie, so ever since the release of ‘Folklore’, I have been covering much of her music. Any of her releases, new or old - you best bet there will be Minnz Piano versions!
How do you cope with long practice hours?
Minnz: I set my own schedules, timelines, and milestones! Practicing, recording, producing, writing sheet music, video editing, and designing graphics all take time. I like to routinely ask myself: What do I want to deliver today? What are my projects for the week? Goals for the month? Achievements I’d like to showcase by next year? By answering those questions (and it’s ok to tweak them along the way!) I feel that is how I best deal with the “grind”. That being said, this is my dream job and even the most laborious of work doesn’t feel stressful because I love every minute of it.
Which piano arrangements are you most proud of?
Minnz: This is a hard one! I must say - my ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ arrangements will always have a special place in my heart. They gave me the boost I needed for my channel and really showed me that, Wow, hey maybe this could actually become something!
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Minnz: I have always pondered what I should be doing in life that gives me purpose. Music is what I live and breathe everyday, and piano is what I’m genuinely good at. Making the step to actively pursue a creative career path was simultaneously the easiest and hardest decision I had to make. In the end, it came down to trusting my heart over what others may think of my career choices!
What advice would you give to a budding pianist?
Minnz: It’s never too late to start! Music can be a lifelong passion, and with the right approach, you may find yourself improving faster than you would expect!
What’s next for you?
Minnz: Lots of people ask me about sheet music, which I'm excited to share that I’ve started hosting on Musicnotes! Also, I’m working on tons of exciting new content, in both original and cover forms! I am forever grateful for the support of my subscribers. Thank you for following and listening to Minnz Piano!