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Williamsville piano prodigy plays at Royal Albert Hall

Transit Middle School fifth-grader Haolin Jin secured the invitation to the London landmark after taking first place in an international piano competition.

AMHERST, N.Y. — The mastery of a musical instrument is impressive, even more so, when you consider the person playing is in fifth grade.

Haolin Jin is a fifth grader at Transit Middle School in the Williamsville School District. He started playing piano when he was just 4 years old. 

"Wanting to practice is really - was really hard for me because when I was little, I always got really tired," Haolin Jin said. "I had to take naps every day, so having time to practice was the really hard part about playing piano."

But practice he did, Haolin Jin has overcome the demands of naps and other distractions to become an amazing talent. So where did this passion come from? His father, Xhanpeng Jin, says Haolin himself. 

"To be honest you know, both his mom and I, we don't play piano," said Xhanpeng Jin.

Haolin Jin is in the orchestra and band in the district, and also takes piano through the Royal Music Academy (RMA) in Buffalo. Recently, through the RMA, he submitted an entry into the UK International Piano Forum. He took first place. With the honor came an invitation to perform in London, at Royal Albert Hall, representing the United States.

It was a huge honor, that came with a mix of excitement and nerves for the entire family. 

"Definitely very nervous, first because we're worried of whether he has been so well prepared for that. and whether he's going to make any mistake in such big events. But on the other side, we're very excited and very proud," Xhanpeng Jin said.

Haolin Jin started out the same way. 

"I was really nervous on my first day, but then when I went to the actual performance my nerves started to calm down," he said.

After all, what's to be nervous about? He was only performing for the world at the illustrious Royal Albert Hall, on a piano known as "Big Red." It is a piano once played on tour by Sir Elton John. That is a lot for any musician to take in, not to mention one who is just getting used to life as a middle schooler.

Royal Albert Hall is considered to be one of the United Kingdom's most treasured and distinctive buildings, since it was opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria. So it is quite an honor for this young prodigy from Williamsville, not to mention his teacher from the RMA, Violeta Arakelova.