Member Spotlight – Jackie Yong

Jamie Chapman
Apr 24, 2024

Meet Jackie Yong, a virtuoso from Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia. Jackie's musical odyssey began at 14 when he discovered the enchanting world of classical piano. He swiftly earned Licentiate and Associate performance diplomas from Trinity College of London within just five years, and his prowess on the piano has garnered him top prizes in prestigious competitions such as the Rockwood Piano Competition, Hong Kong-Asia Open Piano Competition and Charleston International Music Competition. He has performed all around the world, including the United States, Germany, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia,

Currently pursuing a doctorate in piano performance at Florida State University, Jackie is a consummate performer and a dedicated scholar. His research interests span recital programming, historical piano pedagogy, and musical hermeneutics with interdisciplinary studies on psychology and social justice. He also serves as a graduate assistant in collaborative piano and the Vice President of Membership and D.E.I. of the Music Teachers National Association at FSU.

Beyond the concert hall, Jackie serves as a church pianist and organist at Grace Lutheran Church in Tallahassee. As part of his community outreach, he volunteers his musical talents at assisted living centers, spreading joy through the universal language of music. Jackie's commitment to service extends to animal shelters, where he cares for furry friends in need.

Let’s get to know Jackie!

Why did you accept the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi?
Phi Kappa Phi is a prestigious honor society that allows me to make professional connections and network with some of the most outstanding students and scholars from other elite institutions in the country. By witnessing other members' exciting achievements, I am inspired to continue my work in my area and strive for excellence.

How did your passion for piano originate?
I was exposed to piano at church when I was 14 and was self-taught until the church music director found me a piano teacher. The tuition fee was not very affordable, but I had a sponsor who helped me. Playing the piano has been a great platform to express my feelings and emotions. Audiences also enjoy listening to me play. Many have shared that my playing has touched their hearts, and they felt inspired in multiple ways and layers. I felt that if my playing could indirectly help make the world a better place, I wanted to continue doing that. So, here I am.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Playing with my sisters and cousins like there's no tomorrow. Those close and innocent relationships seem nowhere to be found as you become an adult and life gets complicated, at least for me.

What is your favorite thing about Malaysia?
Food. It is definitely the food. Malaysia is a very diverse country, and we have some of the world's most delicious and flavorful dishes. Moreover, they are very affordable, making you feel less guilty about always eating out!

What do you enjoy most about performing?
I get to share beautiful and meaningful music. No two performances are the same, even if it is the same music. Performing for different audiences will have different effects and responses, and you never know what will happen. I try to be as sincere and truthful as possible when performing and hope the divine process of performing can help my audience enjoy and appreciate the beauty of sound and eventually understand life.

What are your hobbies?
I enjoy swimming. In 2022-2023, I finished the 100-mile swimming challenge at FSU. Swimming allows me to step away from music, and new creative ideas often pop up. I try to swim one mile or 35 laps every day, and it makes me feel healthy! I highly recommend it.

What is your favorite piece to play?
This is a tough question. If I had to pick, it would be Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasy. It is a complicated piece in terms of the structure, harmony, and the musical meaning. The whole piece develops like a life journey. You experience pain, joy, sadness, depression, and gratefulness throughout the piece. I would say it is a good depiction of my life.

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
Germany. It has a very rich culture and history. I adore their buildings and architecture, the combination of modern and traditional, and, of course, their music! I attended a summer festival at Halle and visited Leipzig, Bonn, and Berlin. Breathing the same air and standing where Bach, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn used to stand is a phenomenal experience. I would love to return, hopefully for the Annual Bach Festival at Leipzig.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In Fall 2023, I had five recitals of different programs, plus a piano competition in one week! It sounds very intimidating, but all the recitals went really well, including my lecture recital, which I presented on Bernstein's West Side Story. I also won the piano competition with a $2,000 prize! It was one of my proudest accomplishments to this date.

Do you speak multiple languages?
Yes! I'm a polyglot. My first language is Chinese Mandarin, but I have also spoken Malay and English since childhood. My dad speaks Hakka, and my mom speaks Foochow. They are Chinese dialects, and I understand a little bit of both. I have also learned some Cantonese, Japanese, and German, and I am currently learning French on Duolingo!

To learn more about Jackie and connect, visit his profile within our online member community here.

Is there someone you would like to see in the spotlight? Send your nomination to, and include background information for the nomination.