He holds multiple music prizes, has performed in master classes conducted by renowned pianists and was granted a scholarship to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM). Yet, for Azariah Tan Peng Chay, playing the piano has always been, and always will be, an uphill task.
Azariah has bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, a permanent condition that has robbed him of 80 percent of his hearing ability. But, it has not dampened his passion for playing the piano. Azariah explains, “Playing the piano has always been difficult. Though hearing-aids help tremendously, they cannot reproduce many of the subtleties in music. I am constantly working with others on how to more accurately perceive sounds and make up for it.
“I feel that music is a creation of and a gift from God and I enjoy it so much that there could be no end to playing. It will be difficult as my hearing loss progresses, but then Beethoven is a good example of inspiration in this regard. So my motto in life is: “Never give up!”
Azariah’s determination and perseverance were rewarded with auditions and a place at the YSTCM as well as a National Arts Council – Conservatory Scholarship to support his four years of study. “It was a great privilege to be accepted after the stringent auditions. I really appreciated the generous gift of the scholarship as it provided me with the then much-needed financial assistance and freed me from anxiety. All that served to help me focus on and do well in my studies,” he explains.
In spite of his affliction, Azariah feels deep gratitude for the opportunities that life has offered him and feels that he must help others. He says, “I have received so much that I feel compelled to do the same for others, especially for those who have a dire need, whether financially, emotionally or spiritually. As the wise saying goes, there is more happiness in giving than receiving.”
Azariah gives back by performing at events to raise funds for voluntary welfare organisations such as ChildAid, SADeaf, VSA Singaopre, the Children’s Cancer Foundation, the Community Chest and the Singapore General Hospital Music Therapy Department.
Azariah recently graduated from YSTCM and was awarded a prestigious scholarship to study for a Masters in Piano Performance at the University of Michigan.
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