Violinist: Pop music was banned at home

Violinist: Pop music was banned at home
Violinist Chan Yoong-Han plays in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

SINGAPORE - That he plays a musical instrument is no surprise - he was born into a family of musicians.

Violinist Chan Yoong-Han, 38, now plays in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, where his mother used to be a cellist.

His father Chan Yong Shing also plays the violin and all his uncles are classical musicians.

The younger Chan said: "Many Singaporeans don't know much about classical music. But it's such a big part of me."

His parents used to hold regular concerts in their apartment in Paya Lebar. As a child, Chan would perform, too.

He said: "Everyone in my family is into classical music, so it's natural for me to take this path.

"It's unfortunate that so few people appreciate its fineness and elegance."

But when he was a teenager, he complained that only orchestral music could be played at home.

He said: "Pop music was banned at home and my father forbade me from listening to it.

"He felt the only way for me to excel in classical music was to constantly listen to it at home."

Chan would secretly listen to pop music on the radio and when he heard a song he liked - such as Take On Me by A-ha - he would record it by placing a casette tape recorder next to the speakers.

He also used his pocket money to buy casettes by the Bee Gees, the Carpenters and Duran Duran.

He "smuggled" them home and hid them under his mattress, listening to them secretly at night.

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