Sungha Jung is a South Korean acoustic guitarist. Only 18 this year, he already has a YouTube channel with more than 2.5 million subscribers, and counting! Dubbed as a “Guitar Prodigy” and the “August Rush” of Korea, Sungha creates his own acoustic covers and arrangements, typically by ear or by watching videos. He also composes his own music, which he plays and places online.
TNAP spoke to this talented young star to find out more about his inspiration and his musical journey.
TNAP: Hi Sungha Jung! Nice to meet you. First off, when did you start playing ukulele and what or who inspires you?
SJ: It was a few years back. I was inspired by Jake Shimabukuro’s arrangement of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from The Beatles.
TNAP: Did your parents or upbringing have any influence in your love for music?
SJ: My father loves music and has a big CD collection. He used to play a lot of guitar at home as hobby so I grew up watching him play when I was younger before I jumped on it myself.
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TNAP: Are your parents supportive of your music career? How do they show their support?
SJ: Yes, they have been giving me full support really. They helped me attend this international middle school that supported my guitar practice and tour schedule. They were there encouraging me when I decided not to go to high school too. My parents have been doing everything they can do for me to follow my dream as a professional musician, which I am very very grateful for.
TNAP: What made you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
SJ: When I realise that this (playing fingerstyle) is what I like to do most, and I think it’s really great to make people happy by doing what I do best.
TNAP: Have you performed for children as well? What’s the difference between performing for adults and children?
SJ: I think there were always children in ukulele festivals that I joined in the past. I did play with a children’s ukulele club in Cebu, Philippines and it was great fun to share stage with them because they were so happy and eager themselves!
TNAP: Would you recommend children to pick up playing the ukelele? Why?
SJ: Yes absolutely because it’s small and has cute sound. I think it will be easy for children to learn the ukulele than to learn the guitar.
TNAP: What tips would you give to beginners (adults and children) who wants to start learning the ukulele?
SJ: I think it’s a good idea to start by learning an easy song that you like.
TNAP: Complete this sentence, I love playing the ukulele because..
SJ: I love playing the ukulele because it gives me new ways and possibilities to play music. It’s also brought me new fans and friends. It’s been a lot of fun!
Did you know? Sungha’s daily practice time is one to two hours long when there is school, and up to three hours during school breaks. He usually takes an hour to figure out the notes and fingering to a piece, and typically takes another five hours to practice before recording. However, to make his songs better and more accurate, he occasionally spends from a couple days up to a month practicing.
Want to catch this guitar prodigy in action? Now you can at Sentosa Ukulele Festival!
Sungha Jung will be performing with other international renowned artists, together with a few of our very own local musicians.