He sits down on the piano bench and takes a deep breath. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he wipes his hands in preparation. Finally he sets his feet and takes another deep breath. The product of all that—a beautiful melody that can only be produced through hard work, dedication and most importantly, passion.
Hansel is 12 years old. He has mastered many Suzuki Piano levels and is still moving forward. His parents exposed him to classical music as a baby, and he has been hooked ever since.
"I remember when I was a toddler my parents would let me watch several videos of the world's greatest pianists' performances almost every day," Hansel said. "I would sit at the piano bench and play, mimicking those great artists' performances."
Hansel’s father taught him to read music and identify the piano keys when he was three years old. Progressing quickly, Hansel began taking lessons from a Suzuki trainer who had experience working with younger children. By the time he was 4, Hansel could play the entire Suzuki Piano Book 1, consisting of 18 pieces—by memory.
"According to my piano teacher and mentor, I broke the record in the Philippine Suzuki history," he said.
But Hansel’s proficiency and talent didn’t happen through simple luck. It has happened thanks to many hours of practice and hard work. He typically practices two to three hours a day and is always learning new songs and techniques.
Not surprisingly, Hansel has many important performances and awards under his belt. Some of these include:
- Selected to represent the Philippines in the 4th, 5th, and 6th annual Asian Suzuki Conference Young Artist Concert
- Performed a solo piano concert for a fundraiser hosted by Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation, Inc., and Ayala Museum
- Recorded a piece for Mga Ginintuang Pamana sa Tiklado (Golden Heritage at the Piano) music album
- Chosen as one of 11 semifinalists in a competition open to all pianists 30 years and below
- Won 1st prize in the 2015 Piano Etude Competition
- Won 1st prize in the 2011 Piano Teachers’ Guild of the Philippines Soundscapes Piano Competition
Watch Hansel's Taiwan performance! It is clear Hansel has the skill, but he also embodies the passion of a pianist. Playing allows him to make different colors, tones and expressions that show his inner self and make him feel one with the composer.
"Playing piano makes me feel relaxed and relieves all my anxieties. When I sit down to play, I don’t want to stand up again."
Hansel’s inspiration stems from Wolfgang A. Mozart who also started playing piano at a very young age. He admires Mozart’s style because it is dramatic yet sincere and impossible to replicate.
“His pieces are some of the most difficult to master,” he said. “This makes it challenging, but also fun. Mozart is the greatest composer of all!"
Even at his young age, Hansel has also excelled in his University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) courses, earning A’s in every course. He attributes this success to self-discipline, hard work and dedicating significant time and energy to his studies. He and his family chose UNHS because of its high rankings as well, and its 86 years of experience.
"With decades of experience, I trust that UNHS has developed the best online courses that will help me develop my attitudes, skills and knowledge that will bring success to my life."
His suggestions to other aspiring musicians are to:
- Have passion and love for what you do
- Set goals and be discipline in working towards them
- Have a positive attitude
- Practice, practice, practice
"Practice differentiates the ordinary from the extraordinary. Success is linked to action."