Improvising on Piano: Jennifer Lin (Age 14)

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Jennifer Lin in 2004

Concert pianist and composer Jennifer Lin gives a magical performance, talks about the process of creativity and improvises a moving solo piece based on a random sequence of notes.

Jennifer Lin, born in Florida in 1990, was only 14 when she performed at TED, drawing tears with her extraordinary improvisation.

A student of the Yamaha Music Education System from the age of 4, pianist Jennifer Lin has an unusual talent for improvisation. Speaking at TED, she compared her creative process to drawing a comic, and admitted that the state of “flow” — when she is able produce beautiful music instantly — cannot be forced. 

Her virtuoso performances, particularly the improvisations, are profoundly moving, and — even via podcast — have been known to reduce listeners to tears. As one blogger recorded, “I was listening to a presentation by a 14-year old girl named Jennifer Lin who plays the piano like whoa … I wasn’t expecting it, and when she was a minute or two into the piece, I was literally crying in the crowded subway car.” Lin was featured on ABC World News Tonight as Person of the Week and also appeared on a “Little Geniuses” segment on Oprah, where Winfrey declared her “a miracle prodigy.”

She has performed for Oprah and The Daily Show, among others. On The Oprah Winfrey Show, she composed a piece on the spot with 5 random music notes that Oprah chose.



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