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The Straits Times
Dec 30, 2022
Mr Adam Syah, whose renditions of pop tunes on a community piano posted on TikTok have caught the public’s attention, is a self-taught player who has never owned the musical instrument.
The 21-year-old student and part-time GrabFood delivery rider said he started playing around with the piano when he was in secondary school as there was one in the foyer that was made available to students.
He said in an interview with The Straits Times: “Since the piano was not really used by anyone else, I had a chance to play almost every day during recess, so I could practise whichever song I was trying to learn at the time.
“I would watch YouTube to learn the basic chords in a song and then figure out the melody myself.”
Prior to his sessions at the community piano at Block 107 Yishun Ring Road, he had not touched a piano in at least a year, he said. He had come across the piano while he was out delivering food.
“I went to send the food to the customer first, as I did not want it to get cold, and then on my way down I decided to just stop and try playing a song,” said Mr Adam, who is pursuing a diploma in fine arts at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
His first TikTok video taken at the community piano and posted on Dec 24 – of him playing the tune Rather Be by British electronic group Clean Bandit – has chalked up over 160,000 views and more than 22,000 likes.
A subsequent video, in which he played the melody from Ed Sheeran’s hit Shape Of You, has garnered nearly 80,000 views and over 7,000 likes.
The response has been a nice surprise, he said.
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is one of those who have commented about Mr Adam’s performances. He said in a Facebook post: “Something truly joyful about this. The undiscovered, free-spirited talent. The beauty of spontaneous jamming.”
The attention Mr Adam has drawn comes after a video showing the musical talent of two cleaners at the Pandan Valley condominium estate drew many views and likes in August.
The two men had chanced upon a discarded piano while taking shelter from the rain at a bin centre there. Mr Sumali Sakarwi, 64, played the piano while his colleague Rosli Samat, 49, sang in their rendition of Ku Di Halaman Rindu, a hit by Malaysian rock band Lefthanded.
Mr Adam said that while he has received many comments from people encouraging him to pursue music as a full-time career, he wants to just focus on finishing his diploma studies in the next six months and enlisting for national service.
He said: “I enjoy playing the piano and also my other hobbies such as playing the guitar, skateboarding and BMX riding, but for me, these activities are a way to escape and de-stress, so I would rather not turn it into a career.”