Cultivating Natural Talent

January 14, 2015

Great things can happen when you draw inspiration from those around you. Jinsung Kim’s story shows how natural talent, coaxed forward and cared for by teachers and mentors, can blossom into a promising future for the young musician.

The celebrated piano student is currently in his final year of a Masters Degree program at Brandon University’s School of Music, under the tutelage of Dr. Kyung Kim. Jinsung modestly recalls the early days of his musical education in Seoul, South Korea. “I didn’t think I was anything special,” he says, “but I kept practicing.” At the age of 13, he emigrated with his family from Seoul to Winnipeg, and then to St. Claude, MB.

“I didn’t take a music lesson for three years,” he recalls. “I didn’t know the language or the local music scene.” Despite the lull in formal training following his move to Canada, Jinsung kept up his technique by practicing on an aging upright piano the family had brought from Korea, until a chance conversation sparked his interest in Brandon University.

“A friend, and a former music student at BU, raved to me about the education she received at Brandon University,” he says, “so I began taking a class once a week at the University’s Eckhardt-Gramatté Conservatory.” It was at the Conservatory that Jinsung came under the wing of Dr. Lawrence Jones, BU Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the School of Music.

“He is among the top five pianists that I have taught in the last 50 years,” says Jones. “He is a talented young man with very fast fingers and a remarkable work ethic.”

“I am very proud of all that Jinsung has accomplished,” says Kim. “He is a very hard worker and does not take his talent or accomplishments for granted. Jinsung is very sincere in his passion and love for music, and is yet another example of how our Conservatory program and Brandon University supports and brings out the best in our students.”

As an undergraduate student, Jinsung was a top award winner in many prestigious music events—the BU Concerto Competition, Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg Scholarship Competition, MRMTA Western Canadian Tour Competition, Canadian Music Competition, and the FCMF National Music Festival. As a top award winner at the American Protege International Music Talent Competition in New York City, he performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in December 2013.

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Jinsung Kim practising at BU School of Music

Jinsung has high praise for his professor at the School of Music, Dr. Kyung Kim. “I want to teach and perform, like Dr. Kim,” says Jinsung. “I see how she works, and how she cares for her students.” When plagued with tendonitis as a result of practicing 10 to 12 hours every day, Jinsung says Dr. Kim and her husband, Dr. Michael Kim, Dean of the BU School of Music, took care of him. “I’m not just a music student to them; I feel like a son. They inspire me, and are models for pianists as performers and teachers.”

In the summer of 2014, Jinsung was selected as the lone Canadian student to attend the prestigious Bowdoin Summer Festival of the Arts in Maine. There, he studied with piano faculty from the Juilliard School, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading music conservatories.

Jinsung plans to continue his passion for piano following his graduation from Brandon University. “I want to make music my life, and BU is an exceptional place for music students,” he says.

This article first ran in the Winter 2014 issue of Alumni News, a bi-annual publication produced by the Department of Institutional Advancement.