Behind the persona of every artist lies a human being, just like you and I. The Human Diaries series thus explores the multifaceted lives of our musicians, which gained popularity during Season 1 last year. Expect the unexpected in Season 2 as we step into the homes and favourite places of our musicians, conductors and Composer-in-Residence, discovering stories untold.



From a kampung boy to a stellar musician, his pure love for music has kept local dizi musician Lim Sin Yeo going all these years. Take a peek into his life and hear his story!

Text: Lim Ka Min

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Once a Kampung boy

Lim Sin Yeo is no stranger to many in the Chinese orchestral music scene. He has more than 40 years of experience in performing and teaching dizi. Despite Sin Yeo’s many achievements, he has a gentle disposition, a warm and grandfatherly smile. Indeed, a humble and down-to-earth man.

“I grew up in a village, so I would consider myself as a kampung boy,” he recounted.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Perhaps it was Sin Yeo’s life mission, his first encounter with dizi, that sparked his interest, and the rest is history.

“Back then, my brother brought home a record player. Other than vinyl records of pop songs of the time, they also had a collection of albums featuring the dizi.”

He was fascinated by the sounds which the dizi could produce.

“The first time I heard it, I was deeply mesmerized by the rhythm, the characteristics and the performance style of the dizi.”

From a budding technician to a fulltime musician

Sin Yeo shared that he enlisted after graduating from Singapore Technical Institute (STI – an institute of learning for technical training in the 70's). He spent a lot of time and effort during his National Service (NS) days practising the dizi and perfecting his skills. After NS, he got a full-time job as a technician in an American electronics company.

“After working for one and half months, one of the dizi players in the People’s Association Chinese Orchestra was invited to join the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. That resulted in a vacancy and I was asked if I was interested to become a full-time dizi player.”

lim sin yeo 3

(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

As such, Sin Yeo courageously took the first time and joined the People’s Association Chinese Orchestra as a full-time musician in 1979.

“I believe that the people who played instruments back then, had never thought of becoming professional musicians. What mattered to us was to have fun, to enjoy the process, and to play the instrument well. I was never on our minds to pursue a career as a professional musician.”

Sin Yeo has always exhibited mastery of the dizi techniques. His performances always come with a rich and pleasant timbre. He was also given many opportunities to represent Singapore as a dizi soloist. He travelled to many parts of the world, including China, Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Egypt and West Malaysia, and the list goes on.

Exploring new hobbies this pandemic

Other than playing the dizi, Sin Yeo has other hobbies which he enjoyed. A recent hobby which he picked up during the pandemic period while looking at Youtube videos, was cross-breeding flowers.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“So, after some research, I have decided to breed my Adenium plants, which yielded quite satisfying results.”

It wasn’t uncommon to see many flower pots in his home, as well as many pictures of his flowers which bloomed beautifully in his mobile phone.  

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(Photo credit: Lim Sin Yeo)

An advice to the younger generation of musicians

When asked to give a word of advice to the younger generation of musicians, Sin Yeo also emphasised, “I would say that it is normal to be nervous before a performance. In order to get rid of these concerns, first and foremost we must have sufficient practice.”

 “Do not give yourself too much pressure and give it your best when you are on stage. That’s how we can deal with the pressure and stress.”


A versatile homegrown dizi musician, Lim Sin Yeo joined the People’s Association Chinese Orchestra as a full-time musician in 1979 and is currently the dizi musician with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

Lim Sin Yeo

If you haven't caught Lim Sin Yeo's Human Diaries episode, click here.


Here, we share some bonus behind-the-scenes moments:

Sin Yeo has almost 100 wind instruments + different types of dizi at home 

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Photographs of Sin Yeo in his younger days.

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Sin Yeo preparing tea during the filming. He picked up tea appreciation from his wife's family, who are Teochews. 

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Thank you for your kind attention, stay tuned to the next episode of Human Diaries season 2. 😊


Also, do not miss Lim Sin Yeo's performance in the upcoming concert SCO 25 Our Shared Memories: The SCO Yesteryear concert,

happening on 2 October 2021, 8pm.

lim sin yeo shared memories 

Embark on a special journey with Music Director Tsung Yeh, Resident Conductor Quek Ling Kiong and Associate Conductor Moses Gay as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, transporting time back to the 90s through Our Shared Memories: The SCO Yesteryear, to relive and reminisce those extraordinary moments of our SCO pioneers. Audiences are in for a treat as Erhu I Principal Zhao Jianhua will perform The Great Wall Capriccio, an Erhu concerto made famous by the doyenne of erhu, Maestra Min Huifen. Homegrown dizi musician Lim Sin Yeo will charm all present with his captivating performance. Asides, Vocal Associates Chamber Choir will be performing Pass on the Light, through a pre-recording and presented on stage live with SCO.

Get your tickets here:

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