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How This Pianist Went From Walking The Streets Of Korea Alone At 4 Years Old To Playing Carnegie Hall

Photo: courtesy of Jeeyoon Kim
The Inspiring Story Behind Pianist Jeeyoon Kim's Carnegie Hall Debut Recital

Imagine yourself at the age of four.

Maybe you were in preschool, getting in trouble for not sharing your animal crackers (hey, it happens). Or maybe you were home banging pots and pans. Whatever you were doing, you probably weren’t walking alone around a city to get to piano class.

This describes the early experience of classical pianist Jeeyoon Kim.

This brilliant musician discovered her passion very early on and took it upon herself to make it to her classes each day at a very tender age.

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“I was only four and walking through the alleys in Korea to get to class,” Kim recalls. “The store owners would say, ‘oh, there goes Jeeyoon!’”

While her parents actively supported her love of piano, Kim’s passion for the instrument and for classical music were completely self-motivated. She has been practicing piano for five to seven hours per day since she was just a little girl making her way through the streets of Seoul. Kim claims that she “never considered doing anything else.”

She had the passion and courage to follow her heart without ever questioning where it would take her. “It’s just how it is,” Kim explains of her preternatural focus.

Her courage and passion have totally paid off! Eventually, Kim was afforded the opportunity to leave Korea to study music abroad and make a successful career out of it.

“I was deciding between Germany and the United States, and then I realized the best German teachers were going to the United States,” she recalled of the decision-making process. Kim eventually graduated from Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music and has since performed all over the world. Her passion and talent have earned her endless fans and praise in the music world.

In 2016, she released her fan-funded album 10 More Minutes, which she describes as a collection of music for when you just want those “10 more minutes” of peace.

“When people listen to 10 More Minutes, I always suggest that they do nothing else at the same time,” Kim explained. “Some people have told me it takes them a long time to listen to the full album because it’s so hard to find time to do nothing!” she admitted.

It’s worth it, though, because the album is a gorgeous, moving musical experience that delivers on its promise: listening to 10 More Minutes offers a peaceful respite that you will want to savor just a little bit longer. Even people who don’t normally love or seek out classical music react positively — often even emotionally — to this album.

And that’s the whole point! What makes Kim’s music so beautiful and moving are her unequivocal passion and the emotional experience she is eager to stir in her listeners.

“It’s not about the money or the fame,” Kim shared. “I want my music to give people hope.”

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On December 14th, a New York City audience will experience Kim’s ambitions in her debut performance at Carnegie Hall. She promises it won’t be like any other classical music concert. Kim explains that her approach makes the concert more of an “experience”, even for those who don’t really ‘get’ classical music. 

She suggests that her 10 More Minutes concert will be less about the music itself and more about how she wants each listener to feel, about the experience she wants the audience to have.

Kim and a piano will be center-stage for the entire concert, along with a microphone that she will use to explain each piece before she plays it. “I like to talk about what I feel or what I envision when I play each piece,” she said, emphasizing the importance of audience involvement. She clearly wants for the music to be relatable. Moreover, Kim aims for everyone in the audience to be part of a meaningful, live experience.

Kim’s debut Carnegie Hall recital will be beautiful and moving. Tickets are still available (and at only $35 per ticket, it’s a great deal!).

Of course, you don’t have to wait 'til Dec 14th nor be in New York City to experience Kim’s heartfelt passion. You can listen to 10 More Minutes wherever you are and savor a little bit of peace right here, right now.

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