Beethoven in the Making


Angie Zhang, Editor-in-Chief

“Achievement is talent plus preparation.” In a book regarding success, Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes that those wishing to become professionals in an area of study must first reach the 10,000 rule. Whether you start early or late, 10,000 hours of dedication are needed to succeed in “cognitively demanding fields.”

Such can be related to Diamond Bar High School senior David Yu’s experiences with music. He started early on his passion, and is now continually working to meet this rule that will set him apart as a high school pianist. “My parents said that when I was three years old, I would walk from wherever I was in the house to the piano every time my mom played it. They said I was drawn to the sound of the instrument,” he shared.

Yu’s mother was a large part of his childhood experiences with the piano—as the head of a piano academy and also a church pianist, she was his first music teacher and guided him through his early years. “Dedication, determination, and passion have kept me motivated to grow as a sincere and honest musician,” Yu stated.

Tradition is a large part of Yu’s family—his first piano was made in Germany, one that his grandfather brought for his dad in the 1960s that was then passed on to David. However, due to extremely intricate and physically demanding repertoires, Yu shared that his piano slowly started to wear down.

Once-sturdy strings began to break, leading to the damage of the piano’s hammers and pedals; his piano gradually became unplayable. Not to be deterred by this obstacle, however, Yu went to school every day during that summer to practice so that his skills wouldn’t get rusty. He was eventually able to get a replacement for it and continue practicing at home.

Now going through his last year at DBHS, Yu proves that a combination of talent and hard work is required to succeed. Just this past Sunday, Yu finished recording a show for National Public Radio’s program “From the Top” at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall.

“From the Top shines a light on diverse young people ages 8 to 18 by sharing their stories and performances, providing scholarships, and engaging them as leaders in national broadcasts. I went through a long and complicated application process [for the program],” Yu stated. His performance will be broadcasted on Dec. 8 on radio station KUSC (FM 91.5).

He also was just recently selected as one of the 180 finalists amongst nearly 11,000 applicants by the National YoungArts Foundation and was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami to attend the YoungArts Finals week.

The foundation is a scholarship program that gives aspiring young musicians the chance to gain monetary awards, participate in classes with prominent artists in their chosen discipline, and attend different exhibitions. During this week, adjudicators will determine which finalists will be eligible for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Commission to compete for the title of U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts

Besides taking part in national recognition programs, Yu is an active member in his community. He is a violinist in his church orchestra and also enjoys holding various performances for the community. “Whether it’s playing for the elderly at a retirement home or even special performances at American Cancer Society events, there is always a sense of satisfaction that I [get from using] the talent that God has given me to bring joy and a sense of security to others.”

In regards to the future, Yu is currently looking at five music schools and conservatories for his undergraduate study. His top choices are Juilliard School of Music, Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, Peabody Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. “In 10 years’ time, I hope [to be] working on my doctorate degree in music performance and as the assistant conductor of a major orchestra, as well as continuing to perform as a pianist,” Yu states.

He has been inspired by Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was most famously known for his 35 years as the principle conductor of the Berlin Symphony.

“My goal as a musician is to touch people’s hearts and lives; after all, music is a universal language and a powerful tool that can bring peace and happiness to this world. My usual concerts and routine performances show me how much I have done musically; it’s the special performances in the community that make me realize how influential music is to a group of listeners.”