Freshman musician-songwriter discovers passion in music

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By Tashikaa Senthilkumar, Staff Reporter

Freshman Justin Chow’s musical journey began when he was a curious first grader who wanted to play the violin. With a serious commitment to violin, Chow has gone from PRYSM (Philadelphia Region Youth String Music) to PYAO (Philadelphia Youth Artists Orchestra). However, what separates him from the crowd is that his passion for music doesn’t end with violin. It extends even further to songwriting and learning covers on the guitar and piano.  

“Playing music helps me stay calm especially during these times, and also playing for people and making people happy is one of my big drives to keep playing music.” 

Chow has been interested in music for as long as he can remember because his father has played the piano for many years. Instead of only sticking to the violin and official orchestras both in and out of school, Chow dove into other musical ventures. Quickly after picking up the guitar he discovered a love for being able to capture music and make it his own, which he expresses through both songwriting and adapting his own versions of popular covers.  

Through his music, he hopes to share this message with others: “be inspired to make other people happy, including yourself. Don’t put work over what your real goal is, and mine is trying to make as many people happy as possible using my music.” Another way he chooses to spread joy is through comedy, and he sees himself as an entertainer. 

“I always try to find some kind of time to play. Violin is my big number one priority, so I always try to find 30 minutes to an hour to practice violin. Right now I’m covering a song on the guitar, so I try to find 30 minutes a day to practice that.” 

This way, he incorporates music making into his daily life. Chow has been mostly self-taught in the guitar and piano with a little experience from lessons in the past. Despite having gone through a difficult time in seventh grade where he lost the motivation to play any music, he has grown and found a sanctuary in the songwriting process. 

“Trying to find lyrics helps me keep track of my thoughts, especially during these times because it’s very confusing, and we’re all in a place where we don’t know what to do, how to feel or what to feel.” 

The most difficult step is overlapping the lyrics with music, since it’s an entirely new venture. His main resources for learning are the internet, YouTube covers, and his own ears. Chow either learns from online guitar tabs or listens to songs multiple times, finding and teaching himself the chords. His major musical inspirations include artists such as Keshi and Khai Dreams, who’s musical styles he enjoys. 

“I did have experience from violin so like in terms of music in general I have a lot of experience, but fine tuning and learning chords and strengthening my falsetto and stuff like that.” 

With aid from chorus in school, he also has a personal vocal journey. Chow doesn’t see music as a full-time job option but intends to continue to pursue it on the side along with video game streaming. His next step is to upload his first cover to his YouTube channel, Ziroh, and though he doesn’t expect any major feedback for now, he hopes to be able to reach a larger audience. 

“Some day, if not many people, I’m going to inspire other people to play and make other people happy.”