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Japanese Pianist Cateen Plays Melodies on Toy Piano

Hayato Sumino, otherwise known as Cateen online, is a 26-year-old pianist born in Yachiyo City Japan. He started at the age of 3 and was taught by his mother. At 6 years old, he developed his skills with the help of his instructor, Katsuko Kaneko. He takes on Rimsky Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ on a toy piano – but it is no ordinary performance.

Cateen is not afraid to try different things. He immerses himself in a wide array of musical genres, including classical, jazz, pop, electronica, and has also played anime and video game soundtracks on his YouTube. Cateen enjoys experimenting with music and pushing the boundaries of what is designed as traditional. He takes on Rimsky Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’, but it is no ordinary performance.

The toy piano makes a comeback in another of his YouTube performances by redesigning Mozart’s ‘Rondo Alla Turca (Turkish March) Medley.’ This time the toy piano is perched on top of his grand piano and he plays the tune. Unlike the grand piano, the toy piano is much higher pitched and has a twinkling sound that adds a sense of magic to the performance.

Kaneko has taught other like-minded pianists and is known for motivating pianists and kickstarting their careers in performing. Kaneko has been continuous support for Cateen. Through her mentorship, she has helped him to develop his own sense of style and has encouraged him to enter competitions.

Not only does he start at a slower BPM and gradually increases it, but he also plays the tune on a toy piano! Seeing the small device on Amazon, Cateen expresses how his curiosity overruled and had to buy it.

Despite his grand piano sitting above, he crouches on the floor next to the small model. He begins at 160BPM and by the end of his performance, he reaches 250 BPM. The performance is impressive and showcases the extent to which his abilities can really go.

As well as YouTube, Sumino built his presence by performing in competitions. In 2018, he attended the 42nd PTNA Piano Competition in Japan and won the Grand Prix. During this time, Sumino was studying at the University of Tokyo and was interning at a tech startup.

In 2019, Sumino debated whether to enter the Chopin Competition in Poland. Despite his fears, with Kaneko’s help, he confirmed his place in the Warsaw competition. Due to Covid-19, the competition was pushed back to 2021. He finished his graduate studies in 2020, and whilst most expected him to continue in the technological world, Sumino dived even further into music. With his passions directed at music, he took the plunge to become a professional pianist.

His YouTube channel began to attract more attention and he used it as a way to develop his career and online presence. In 2021, Sumino finally competed again and he reached the semifinals of the 18th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, which had a record-holding audience of an enormous 45,000 people.

After competing in the competition, Sumino contacted two pianists, Francesco Tristano and Hania Rani. Both pianists played a range of genres, like Sumino, and also had some strong techno influences. Sumino travelled around Europe, meeting the pianists and engaging with his fans along the way.

He now has 960K subscribers on his YouTube channel and regularly posts videos to interact with his audience. If quirky and experimental music is for you, listen to more of Cateen's recreations here.

If you want to see more from this talented pianist you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or visit his official website to keep up-to-date with the latest from him.