With an envious collection of sneakers, a love of basketball and epic daily bike rides you don’t immediately think classical musician, but these are just some of the many quirks violinist Shaun Lee-Chen has.
He’s been the Musician in Residence at the UWA School of Music for almost two years and brings violin mastery that equals that of his mentor and teacher, violinist Paul Wright, as well as a level of hip that quickly made him the favourite among the string students.
Being a Musician in Residence is a dream job says Shaun.
“My day usually revolves around getting early practice time, a variety of classes, 1-1 teaching, performance practice classes and ensemble rehearsals.”
Now an accomplished classical musician, he understands the dedication required to become one, and says the persistence to succeed can often leave aspiring young musos feeling overwhelmed.
“I learned the hard way about this at an early point in my career but it was a blessing in disguise in a way.
“I think staying fairly fit, having a good degree of body awareness and knowing the signs of overdoing it are some of the important things one should consider as a working musician,” Shaun says.
This is why Shaun employs a malleable approach to teaching that focuses on the needs of a particular student and insists on creating a healthy and encouraging learning environment.
Talking to Shaun you get the feeling he has the urbane vibe and sophisticated style that will turn any drab class into a music student's heaven.
“The business of striving to achieve a very high standard can get unnecessarily serious sometimes.
“My teaching mantra is to always keep things positive, fun and light hearted. If you apply those principles, you get the best out of students,” Shaun says.
And there's much of Shaun in UWA’s music ‘pipeline’ including performances at Government House Ballroom this month and in August, Free Lunchtime Concerts and Fridays@Five events. He is also involved in important community activities such as the WACE Music Bootcamp and workshops at his alma mater Churchlands SHS.
Having a musician of Shaun’s calibre at the School is exciting; it means UWA students are exposed to world-class musicians and the wealth and breadth of their experience. The fact that Shaun is a UWA graduate is all the more inspiring for our emerging young artists.
Shaun was appointed as Concertmaster of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) in 2016 and his soloist credentials include performances with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO), Queensland Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO). He has been guest Assistant and Associate Concertmaster with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and TSO, and performs regularly with WASO.
It was only two years ago that the ABO’s album ‘Brandenburg Celebrates’ with Shaun as a featured soloist was nominated for an Aria Award for Best Classical Album.
Aria aside, what about that sneaker fascination we ask Shaun? Well, that he says stems from his childhood obsession with basketball in the 90s. Now, he is simply making up for all the sneakers his parents wouldn’t let him have.
While he never became a basketball player, he can certainly revel in the fact that he has a collection of sneakers that would rival any player.
We’re glad he stuck to violin too.