Jiayi Guo succeeds in a variety of different facets of music



Having transitioned to jazz piano after studying classical piano, Jiayi Guo has used her talents as a pianist and singer-songwriter to create her own original compositions.

The stroke of a classical piano introduced junior Jiayi Guo to the wonderful world of music. When Guo fell down the musical rabbit hole that ensued, she met various talented mentors and discovered jazz piano, musical composition, professional music-editing spaces and more.

Guo is a jazz pianist and singer-songwriter. She has played the piano since she was four years old and has since developed a variety of musical skills, such as arranging and composing music. Described as “modest” by her mentors, Guo has persevered through many challenges to become a musician with countless strengths.

In middle school, Guo started playing jazz piano after years of playing classical piano. Guo said this was a challenging transition, but she said she is proud of the last concert in which she played classically.

“I ended my classical piano career with a bang. I auditioned for a music festival, and I got the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall. That was my last classical performance before I completely switched to jazz,” Guo said. “Jazz is totally different to me because it’s improvisational. I had to figure out chords and there was a lot of music theory involved, but I got used to it.”

Guo said that this musical transition was worth the difficulties, as it helped her learn to keep persevering.

“I was really scared at first, but I’m glad I made the transition. I learned that, and this might sound a bit cliché, but you really just go for it. Even if at first the song stresses you out, and you sob about it for hours, you just try it out,” Guo said.

The switch to jazz brought with it new music and new mentors. One of them, John Purcell, the Jazz/Rock Ensemble Coordinator at Brookline Music School, said that Guo is an extremely versatile and determined musician in large part thanks to her experience playing a variety of instruments and composing different kinds of music.

“As a person, she has always been very modest, and just does what needs doing. I can see her musical growth more through her composing, because she’s such a great musician, especially in terms of jazz and rock,” Purcell said. “She is versatile in that she can write a symphony, take the solo on a piano piece and sing the hell out of a rock song. I’m not sure what she can’t do.”

Guo is interested in multiple genres of music and is able to put her interest and effort into her own music. She takes inspiration from songs that she hears and dedicates a lot of time into her musical pieces.

“It was difficult to get started, but once I did, the songwriting process flowed more smoothly, and I produced my first song using GarageBand. The song was called ‘Not That Good’, because I didn’t really believe in myself,” Guo said. “I’m still working on a bunch of musical projects, including some contemporary pieces and songwriting, and I think this is a nice path for me.”

Guo’s perseverance and musical versatility has brought her to where she is today: a jazz pianist and singer-songwriter. She recognizes that her ability to embrace mistakes and move forward has helped her create beautiful pieces and challenge herself to improve. Despite only having known Guo for a year, band director Carolyn Castellano is impressed with her skills.

“She is really serious about arranging music and music theory, which is not something that I knew about her at first glance,” Castellano said. “You wouldn’t know that she’s a powerhouse.”

With such a broad range of accomplishments in these different venues of music, Castellano is truly excited to see where Guo’s future in music takes her.

“I’m really excited that she’s only a junior. I think she’s really explode not only this year, but next year too.”

After creating multiple of her own songs and compositions, Guo took the opportunity to share her love of music with the world through her own music video.

“A few weeks ago, I released my own music video for a song I wrote. It was the first time I had ever released my own music, so it is a great milestone for me,” Guo said. “After all of these years composing music, I released something that I made by myself, and I revealed an element of my identity that some people weren’t aware of.”