Gao Jian was born in Beijing, China into a family of musicians. He started studying French Horn with his father and has been performing since thirteen. Between 1981 and 1983 he received two highest distinctions in National Horn Competition and entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He visited Europe several times with the Chinese Youth Symphony Orchestra as a Principal of horn section, and received excellent reviews.

Gao Jian joined the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 1988. He has performed in chamber music, ensembles and concerts in addition to regular performances with the orchestra. He is the Associate-principal of the horn section in the SSO.

(This interview was conducted in November 2010)

How did you start playing the horn?

My father is a horn player, so I can say I grow up with this instrument. I start learning to play the horn at 11 years old from my father.

How did your musical journey lead you to the SSO?

I joined the Beijing Symphony Orchestra at the age of 20. I went to study at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing at the age of 22, and became a Principal horn player in the China Youth Symphony Orchestra for more than 3 years. I went on concert tours with the Orchestra to European countries such as England, Italy, Germany and Switzerland for a few times during that period. In 1988, as a accomplished Orchestral musician, I joined the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).

What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have any basic concepts or ideas you like to focus your teaching around?

I’ve taught students from Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO), NUS Wind Symphony, NTU Symphonic Band, SMU Symphonia, as well as Nanyang Girl’s School and Raffles Girl’s School. Every student is unique to me; I do not use the same idea of training on everyone. Keeping the student’s natural talent and giving them the proper method for development is very important.

Do you consider yourself more of a teacher or a performer?

For me, being a accomplished performer is the first step to being a very good teacher. I can share my performance experiences to students, and during the process of training my students, I can obtain a lot of new ideas, such as, how to solve the technique problems to review my own performance.

What advice do you have for young musicians in Singapore intending to pursue music as a full-time career?

Being hardworking is the key to success. As there is stiffer competition and higher standards for music making these days, musicians must learn to look at music from a world’s perspective.

Do you believe that strictness in teaching is the way to excellence, or is encouragement more important that scolding?

I believe that strictness in training and encouragement in any progress they’ve made are both important to them.

What music do you listen to for leisure?

I like to chose random music to listen to.

Do you have any interests or hobbies not related to music?

My hobbies are scuba diving and cooking.


Written By Editor

A contributing editor at TBP.