Xiaolin Zhang

16-year-old pianist rewriting the world of music

16-year-old pianist rewriting the world of music

Sometimes we take small decisions without much thought that end up transforming our lives completely. When Xiaolin Zhang was five years old, he attended his first piano lesson at The Center for Musical Arts, and eleven years later he cannot imagine his life without it. He rapidly gained interest in the world of music, and its various genres, from classical music to rock music. Throughout the years he has received multiple prestigious awards for his performances and obtained several notable achievements in the field of music.


Xiaolin recalls deciding to pick up the piano when a classmate of his would preform in front of the class from time to time, inspiring him to take on the instrument himself. After attending his first lesson and learning the basics of playing the piano, he started spending every moment of free time he had experimenting on the keys, or exploring and listening to new pieces of classical music. Eventually, he started taking playing the piano more seriously and making it more than just a hobby. That was when he began participating in local and international competitions, winning himself various awards.


Xiaolin was able to receive awards at prestigious competitions such as the first prize and additional awards from the Chopin Competition in Abu Dhabi, the Grand Prize of the Young Musicians of the Gulf, and the Special Liszt Prize from the International Franz Liszt piano competition in Weimar, Germany. However, the one that impacted him the most was the first prize in his category that he received during the Chopin Competition in Abu Dhabi back in 2012. It was a momentous moment in his journey as a musician, as it boosted his confidence as a kid and encouraged him to keep working hard and practicing.


While his journey as a pianist has been mostly rewarding, it did not come without its challenges. As Xiaolin explains, “One of the challenges of trying to take piano seriously and compete in different events for me, is keeping motivation when results aren’t positive. For example, I’d consider reading as one of my strongest attributes, however when I cannot easily quick read through a piece, I lose a bit of motivation”. Nevertheless, that did not stop him from working hard to overcome his shortcomings, and he continues to persevere even when the results aren’t as positive as he hoped.


Recently, Xiaolin’s interest in the rock genres has been increasing, with him adopting the electric guitar as his secondary instrument. After exploring the genre and it’s musicians, he decided to start making his own music, which led him to the realization that music will be a large part of his future. In the past, he mostly immersed himself in classical music and looked up to great artists such as Krystian Zimerman and Martha Algerich. However, lately with his interest in rock music, his main inspiration in the music world is Matt Bellamy, the lead vocalist, guitarist, pianist, and primary songwriter of the rock band ‘Muse’.


Xiaolin is currently studying Music A-level at school, and as always hard at work practicing the piano alongside producing a few tracks here and there for other genres. With music being his greatest passion, when asked about his next plans he speculated  “As for my future, who knows? One thing is for sure, music is a huge part of my life and will always be.”