Ayaka Kinjo, a graduating senior from Japan studying piano performance, said switching to be a music major has helped her discover her love for the piano and performing.
Kinjo said her initial plan attending BYU-Hawaii was to study hospitality and tourism management. She said she just wanted to play the piano as a hobby.
After being at the school for only a few days, one of her classmates introduced her to the piano professor, Dr. Scott McCarrey. After playing one piece for him, he asked if she would consider being a piano major.
“After meeting Dr. McCarrey and thinking over the opportunities that would come through studying music, I could not turn it down. I love piano and decided that it would be worthwhile to study something that I love.”
Kinjo said she has been playing the piano for 19 years and is grateful for the opportunities she has had at BYUH to become a better pianist. She said playing allows her to express her emotions through music.
“Playing the piano has always been something that I have enjoyed and has inspired me to work hard,” she said. “In the six years prior to me coming out to BYUH, I played tennis very seriously and did not take piano as seriously. At that point, I never would have pictured myself where I am today, receiving a degree in piano performance.”
In retrospect, Kinjo said she is happy with her decision to attend BYUH and to change her major. “Coming to BYUH was such a great decision, and I have learned so much from the professors and my fellow classmates.
“BYUH is a great place to study music because there are less people than there would be at the universities in Japan and more of a focus on you and growing your skills.”
One of the greatest opportunities she said she has had through the Music Department was competing in and winning the 2015 Concerto Competition.
“I find that my best performances and my best work always comes when I have something meaningful to work for. In the months approaching the competition, I practiced more than I ever had in my life. Winning the competition and having the opportunity to play with the orchestra was the best experience I have ever had in performance,” she said.
Kinjo’s journey as a pianist when her mother, an organ and piano teacher, sat her down and started giving her organ lessons. By the time she was four, Kinjo said she was taking regular piano lessons from her mom.
Kinjo said her mother and grandmother were her biggest inspirations and supporters throughout her years as a pianist. “My mom is the one who initially introduced me to music and helped me find a love for playing the piano.
“My grandmother has also had a huge impact on my endeavors as a pianist because she always came to support me at all of my performances.”
NOTE: This story's online publishing was delayed because it was featured in the June 2017 print issue.