My Weekend

Guitarist Neil Chan Thim Yan spends his weekends hanging out at a guitar shop or visiting Little India.
Guitarist Neil Chan Thim Yan spends his weekends hanging out at a guitar shop or visiting Little India. PHOTO: JAMES HII PHOTOGRAPHY

Singapore-born guitarist Neil Chan Thim Yan, a recent graduate from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, will duet with YouTube star Sungha Jung during the South Korean guitar maestro's concert here at Kallang Theatre tomorrow. He will also perform a solo piece at Jung's show. The 23-year-old - who participated in the President's Star Charity show in 2014 as well as the Mosaic Music Festival and Singapore Night Festival in 2013 - is also a judge for the Sungha Jung Guitar Competition for aspiring fingerstyle guitarists, where the winner will be the opening act at Jung's concert.

Chan lives with his grandmother, parents and older brother in an HDB flat in Clementi.

What are your favourite haunts on weekends?

I'm quite thrifty, so I don't have any favourite restaurants. I like to go to the Esplanade and just walk around. Maestro used to have a guitar shop thereand I'm its official Singapore ambassador. I also like to visit its shop at Excelsior Shopping Centre, play the guitars and talk to the people there. I am quite sad the Esplanade outlet closed this month.

I also frequent Little India. I enjoy listening to Indian music and I'm learning to play the mridangam, an Indian barrel drum.

What do you do for leisure?

I do just music stuff. I don't find practising my instruments a chore or a job, so I can spend a lot of time doing that.

I like to go on YouTube to watch random snippets of TV shows such as Friends. I like to play with my five chinchillas and my cat - I think it's half-tabby and half-Persian. I found it when it was a kitten.

Who would you like to meet on a weekend?

Benny Prasad, a missionary from India. He performed at my church about six years ago and I decided to learn fingerstyle guitar because of him. We've e-mailed each other, but I've not talked to him personally.

Another person would be Phil Keaggy. He's got nine fingers, but that hasn't stopped him from being a brilliant guitarist. To me, he is one of the best. Keaggy's humble and he's friends with Prasad, so I guess I'd like to meet both of them for a weekend and just talk about life, ask them how they stay humble and how they use their gift for God's purpose.

Where would you go if you could travel anywhere for a weekend?

I'm happy and contented where I am, surrounded by my loved ones. Of course, I want to travel to learn more about music. I'd visit Spain, Mongolia, India and the Andes region for their music.

Brina Tan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline My Weekend. Subscribe