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Take Five with Hayley Lam

Hayley Lam By

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About Hayley Lam
Hayley Lam's long history with music began at a very early age. By the time she was 11, she had already earned her Associate Diploma, ATCL Recital Piano from the prestigious Trinity College of London. In 2015, Lam moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she was given a scholarship to study at the world- renowned Berklee College of music. During this period, Lam had the privilege and honor to study under many of the world's best jazz musicians. At Berklee, Lam completed her Bachelor of Music with a five-year dual major degree program in performance and jazz composition in a record time of just 1.5-years. Just this past year, Lam earned the title of the 2017 Composer Showcase Winner at the International Jazz Conference in New Orleans. She was also a Global Music Awards (GMA) winner in the Composer and Jazz Big Band category and the winner of the Contemporary Piano 2017 international composition, which was held in Athens. Many of her original works won the praise of critics and audiences all over the world where her writing style is often referred to as "Stravinsky meets Brookmeyer."

Instrument(s):
Piano, Keyboard/Synths and Violin.

Teachers and/or influences?
I have a pretty diverse musical background. So definitely, I have the Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky side of me as I used to spend years studying their music. It just comes out naturally that way. On top of that, I am also trained in jazz composition and studied jazz theory and harmony at Berklee. I went through a Dream Theatre phase... I am also a huge jazz fusion fan. So you tell me what is the result of this? I am still trying to get ahold of the "genre" thing. I view jazz as a tool for self expression through improvisation and innovation. I don't really know at the moment. I think there is no definition to it. At the end of the day, you are an artist, you create something, and classification isn't necessarily a consideration, as long as you know you've expressed yourself artistically and your music reflects integrity."

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I am not going to be say the cliche line that "I knew it since day one." Unfortunately that was not true for me. In fact, I was brought up in a very conservative household such that pursuing an artistic career was out of the question. So I never really thought that I would be doing what I am doing today even though I have been involved in music since I was a child. Even from the day I decided to pursue music, I have been discouraged and there wasn't a lot of support.

Your sound and approach to music.
I like to explore unique and different sounds, challenge that norm and create something that is exciting and interesting. Over the years, I began to realise that I gravitate towards bold statements and ugly yet beautiful kinda melodies... but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. I am not sure, but I try to find the beauty in every awkward situation in my music and compositions. When it comes to writing style and composition, I do not restrict myself to traditional harmonies but rather uses the trial-and-error method and experiment with different tones and structures.

Your teaching approach
Other than providing students with the basic musical knowledge on harmonies, ear training, techniques to their instruments, I think it is important to expose a child to different music styles. That was something I wish I had back then. I wasn't really exposed to other kinds of music other than classical. Don't get me wrong, classical training has helped me with my technique on the piano and violin, and it has given me the foundation for any other music I want to pursue. But I believe that when a child is exposed to different musical styles, he or she can make a more informed decision as to what kind of music best suits their expression. That's just my opinion. And of course, we want every student to enjoy learning music and to draw inspiration from it.

The first jazz album I bought was:
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. At that time I was a complete noob, just wanting to explore jazz and my friend recommended me this classic album. That actually brings back a lot of memories. Back then when people still used CD players, with the kind of combo player built in with cassette player too... I used to buy compilation CDs of legendary jazz musicians.... the titles went something like "Greatest classics of Jazz," something along those lines... and I was blasting it in my bedroom. And next thing I knew, my mum came in, unplugged the record player because the music was "too noisy." Well, I think that was Miles playing the trumpet.

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