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.



Virtuoso on stage, dedicated pet groomer off stage! Who would have thought that after changing out of her performance gown, SCO pipa principal Yu Jia would be standing beside her pet grooming table, donned in an apron, happily trimming furkids and even making it a second profession? Let’s take a walk into Yu Jia’s world of music, her interest in pet grooming and understand more about what she does in her pockets of spare time.


Text: Oh Hui Yin

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)


Interest turned profession: Pet grooming

Like many other professional musicians, Yu Jia plies her trade on stage, bringing beautiful music to people. The mature and composed image of her sitting on stage, all dressed up in glamorous gowns with her hair neatly bun up, has been a familiar image to the audiences over the years.


However, little is known about her other profession, which seems out of place from her main pursuit — A professional pet groomer.

Walking into her pet grooming room full of wall stickers of dogs, Yu Jia shared that she became a proud “pawrent” to her first pet dog in 1998, which was the second year she came to Singapore. She is now a “pawrent” of 2 adorable furkids.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“The conditions back then weren’t as good as now, so I did not have much opportunities to bring it out for grooming. I groomed it myself.”

It was during this process that she developed interest in pet grooming.

Being someone who displays a dogged determination to do her best in everything, Yu Jia decided to take this interest further.

“I spent 1000 hours, a total of four years to attain a grade ‘A’ pet grooming license.” She now helps her friends to groom their pet dogs, when time permits.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Despite being two contrasting professions, Yu Jia found similarity in them — constant practising and maintaining the skills.

Strict father, accomplished daughter

As an old Chinese saying goes “ten years of practice for one minute on the stage”. Yu Jia’s established career is not one without years of hard-core practice routine.

She was introduced to pipa by her father, Yu Song Lin, at a tender age of four. Sitting in her cosy music room surrounded by soft toys, Yu Jia recalled her education years where she juggled school and pipa practice daily, under the strict guidance of her father.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“From the first day I started learning pipa till I graduated from high school, I woke up at 5:30am daily, begin practising at 6am till 7am, an hour of drilling the basic skills.”

After which, she heads off to school and continues practising pipa after taking lunch after school, all the way till bedtime.

“Over the 10 odd years, I have been living by this routine.”

Her hard work is being paid off as she not only won numerous awards over the years, but was also invited to various countries, such as Taiwan, Denmark, Mexico and Hong Kong, and perform alongside renowned conductors and musicians.

The journey never halts

However, Yu Jia is not someone who will settle for less. To further improve her skills and knowledge, she applied to study for a Masters in Pipa three years ago and just graduated this year.

Concerts were hit hard during the pandemic, as performances went digital or got cancelled. With more time to spare, Yu Jia decided to learn another instrument, the zhongruan.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“I will spend about seven to eight hours daily to practise. After which, I plan to study a Masters in zhongruan.”

Attributing her determined attitude in life to her father, she said “since young, my dad has always taught me to make good use of every minute and second, you will have more time to play after you grow up……even though I am already a grown up now, I still prefer to make use of the limited spare time that I have to keep enriching myself.”

Yu Jia will be performing in the Virtuoso Series I: Pluck concert on 31 July 2021 (Saturday), 8pm. Do grab your tickets on SISTIC! Ticket sales will start soon.


Yu Jia joined the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in 1997 and she is currently the Pipa Principal. Yu Jia began learning pipa at the age of four from her father Yu Song Lin.


If you haven't caught Yu Jia’s episode on Human Diaries Season 2, click here!


Thank you for reading and following through the article thus far, sharing with you some bonus moments which we captured. Here are some special behind-the-scenes which you didn’t get to see from the video:

Electronic “rhinestones” pipa! Yu Jia meticulously pasted the rhinestones one by one on the pipa for a performance.


Yu Jia smiling happily when sharing about her passion on pet-grooming.


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

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