I had the opportunity to do a short interview with this piano prodigy. She is not only a wonderful musician, but a lovely person.
How long have you been playing piano?
I've been playing for eight years. I started when I was four years old.
How much did you practice then, and how much do you practice now?
I can't remember too well, but I probably did about one hour per day. Now I practice between three to six hours per day depending on where I'm at and what I'm doing.
Do you go to public or private school, or are you home-schooled?
I've actually done all of them! This year I've been home-schooled, which is nice because you get a lot done!
Who have your piano teachers been? How long did you study with each of them?
I studied with my pre-school teacher for about two years. Then I moved to two other teachers - the Akimoto sisters. For the last two years, I have been studying with Dr. John Perry in Orange County, California.
Tell me about what it's been like to be in the public eye. You've experienced more public recognition than almost any pianist your age. What was it like to appear on the Ellen show?
I was eight years old. It was pretty exciting!
Was she nice to you when the cameras were off?
I didn't actually meet her when the cameras were off because she was really busy, but it was a really fun experience.
Was that the scariest thing you've ever done, or are concerts and competitions more nerve-wracking for you?
Competitions are the most nerve-wracking for me, because you're competing with other people.
What competitions have you done, and what countries have you performed in?
I've competed in a competition in Budapest, the Chopin International Competition, and a competition in Connecticut. I've done concerts in China, Germany, Poland, Italy, Latvia, Japan, Panama, and the United States.
What was your favorite country to perform in?
I really like all of the European countries I have performed in.
Who is your favorite composer?
Have you done any special performances that you'd like to tell us about?
I went to Japan and did benefit concerts for the tsunami relief. I was able to go into the elementary schools and play for all of the kids.
What are your career goals?
I'd like to be a really good pianist who can help people. I want to do the best I can in everything I do.
Do you want to teach? Have you ever taught any lessons before?
I might want to teach. I think it would be fun. One time I tried teaching my best friend's little brothers and sisters, but it only lasted for two minutes!
How do you stay motivated as a young pianist?
I just love it so much. It's kind of like eating and sleeping for me. It's something I want to do every day. I like it so I never get tired of it.
What advice would you give to other young pianists to help them stay motivated?
Find something you like about the piano, and just have fun! Piano is about helping people enjoy themselves and the music.
Thank you so much to Umi for a wonderful interview and for being such an inspiring young pianist! Below is a video of a compilation of some of her performances and interviews.