If you’ve been to one of our recitals or followed our social media accounts, you’ll probably have seen the wonderful Liu kids, Ayn and Athan, performing solo or together on their ukulele and guitar, sometimes with their teacher Michael. Their talent and enthusiasm, and of course, the fun of watching them perform together, is always a joy. Make sure you follow them on Instagram at @liukids to check out their latest performances.
MM: How did you each first become interested in singing and playing guitar/ukulele? How and when did you first start learning, and how long has it been now? Do you play anything else? What do you like in particular about guitar/uke? Is the rest of your family musical?
Ayn L: I probably just started to love music from me singing since I was like, a baby. I like the ukulele because it’s small and easier to handle with. The guitar is less comfortable, but still fun to play. My family probably is a singing family. I like singing everywhere I go.
Athan L: It’s been about two years since I started guitar and I still love it. I previously played piano for about 7 years. Our whole family loves to sing and we still sing karaoke together.
MM: We got to see you at the last recital, and in a few social media posts. How and how often do you share your musical skills with family, friends, and community? What’s been one of your favorite performances/recordings/singalong/jam sessions, and why?
Ayn L: I normally only share my musical skills with family because I sing all the time next to them. I do sometimes sing to my friends, but it does get me a bit nervous. I don’t really sing to a lot of people, but only for concerts and recitals. It’s easy to sing and play with my music teacher because I practice with him and he helps me get better. I’ve been to a recording studio before, and recorded a song there. This is one of my favorites because it was a first time. Trying something new feels great.
Athan L: I usually post a song on our social media account about every 1-2 weeks but whenever there is an opportunity at school, I try out for solos or group acts, and sing with my choir. One of my favorite performances was the most recent August Recital because I got to perform with my sister and watch all of our peers perform.
MM: What makes you keep up your practice, and what are your goals for the rest of this year and next year? Where would you like to be in five years with your music, and in general?
Ayn L: My dad keeps my practice up and tries to make me a better musician. My goal for the rest of this year and next year is probably able to reach high notes. In five years, I would like to be performing everywhere, doing gigs and earning a little money.
Athan L: I usually practice for self-betterment and for auditions, but I also practice because I love to play and sing. By the end of this year, my goal is to continue to play guitar and get better at singing. By next year I hope to learn how to play electric guitar better. In 5 years, I would see myself still performing and doing gigs here and there.
MM: Who are a few bands/artists that have inspired you, and why? What song of theirs would you recommend to others? Do you have a favorite music video?
Ayn L: A few artists who’ve inspired me are probably Amy Winehouse and Adele. One of the songs I would recommend by Amy Winehouse is “Valerie,” because I sang that in a recording studio. I feel Amy Winehouse has soul in her voice. Adele’s songs are amazing, and I want to be able to sing her songs and hit high notes.
Athan L: One of my favorite groups is Pentatonix, an a cappella group. Their music is amazing, from their covers to their originals. I also love Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider with their collaborations and medleys. Pentatonix has so many amazing songs it’s hard to choose one. But Sam Tsui’s Summer Pop Meldey 2015 is amazing.
MM: Who do you look up to as a mentor, musical or otherwise, and why? Do you have a favorite quote from them, or anyone else?
Ayn L: I look up to my brother because he is more skilled in playing better chords on guitar and piano. He also is really smart, and I wish to be really smart too.
Athan L: I don’t really have a mentor or someone I look up too, but my mom and dad have really helped me along the way.
MM: Can you share about a technique, skill, or song you struggled with, and how you are overcoming or have overcome it? Or what are you struggling with the most now?
Ayn L: A song I struggled with was “Give Me One Reason” by Tracey Chapman. I struggled with this because I would always forget the lyrics, stutter, and according to my dad, I didn’t have enough sass in it. I performed the song for the Molly’s Music August Recital, and my parents said I did great.
Athan L: One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with and still am is falsetto. I’m still working on it and my teacher Mr. Michael has been a huge help.
MM: What grade are you in, and what’s your favorite subject/why? Can you share about a favorite book, hobby or sport?
Ayn L: I am in 4th grade, and my favorite subject is art. I love painting, drawing, and more crafty things. I enjoy art and I make my mom buy a lot of things. My favorite sport is running because sometimes I run races, and I do the 100 Mile Club at school. My whole family runs and it’s really fun.
Athan L: I am currently a 9th grader attending Woodbridge High School. My favorite subject is math, though the arts are a close second. My favorite sport is cross country.
MM: What advice would you give to other students just starting out?
Ayn L: My advice is starting out with piano or keyboard. After you learn that, you can read any music. If you start playing other instruments, play your heart out and do it with feeling. You can be amazing.
Athan L: Find what you love and pursue it. Don’t let people tell you what you can or cannot do.