His schooling was through the government
institutions, finishing at Yuparaj School, and he had in his
mind that he would like to go to university and study music.
“I had loved to sing since I was young, and I felt I should
study music,” he said. However, his parents did not agree,
feeling that a science degree would be a much better stepping
stone to financial security, as one could understand from their
Like any good young Thai, he acceded to his
parents’ wishes and entered the Faculty of Science at Chiang
Mai University, majoring in Physics. During these undergraduate
years he added to his income by singing at night in pubs and
clubs. This helped him survive, but it also extended his four
year course into five. “It took me five years because I was
singing too much,” he said by way of explanation.
Having done as his parents wished, he then
looked at what he really wanted. “I decided to make my own
choice and went to study classical music at Payap University as
a singer.” This included opera and other classical music art
forms. To keep himself financially afloat he continued the
nocturnal singing in the pubs. He also had a dabble in a fashion
boutique. “I opened a boutique business. I thought I’d like
it, but I was wrong.” All that this interlude did was to
extend his classical music course from three years to four!
No longer an undergraduate, Tianchai returned
to Payap as a part-time teacher, melding his degrees in physics
and music, by teaching the physics of musical sound and
acoustics, hearing and sound production. The rest of the time,
he sang professionally.
Unfortunately he found that classical music
was not all that popular in Thailand, only the pub style, so he
began singing pop numbers, winning an important contest in
Thailand 21 years ago, which also gave his career a boost.
From there, his entrepreneurial flair came
out again and he opened a restaurant serving European food and
Broadway music. At night the restaurant had live music -
Tianchai himself! The restaurant as his vocal venue lasted five
years, finally becoming a victim of the main roads department
which took so long building a new road outside while his
customers were effectively blocked from getting in.
I asked Tianchai if he had ever wanted to
follow a career in pop music? “It doesn’t interest me. Maybe
I’m not good looking like “Bird” McIntyre. That’s what
they (the fans) want.” He considers that he has done something
much greater than being a pop star. “I am very proud of the
fact that I have had a chance to sing for the Royal Family. I
have sung for the Queen and the Crown Prince, and I still sing
for the Crown Prince at his parties.”
Not going to pop music, finally he decided it
was time to combine his experience in teaching and his
experience in music, and opened his own music school. That was
five years ago and has been very successful for Tianchai. The
original school in the CM building now being added to with
another in the Wangkam building in Nimmanhaemin Road.
“Everybody can sing if they can hear and have vocal chords,”
said Tianchai. “Everyone has the ability to sing. It’s not a
gift. It is something you want to do.”
He has found that parents these days want
their children to study singing. “When I was young music was a
second class career, but that has totally changed. The vision of
Thai people has changed a lot. The living standards are so much
better and they are now looking at the pleasures involved in
The rationale behind the schools is not to
turn everyone into a “Tata” Young or “Bird” but is much
more all-encompassing than that. “I don’t want everyone to
be a singer, but to be brave and confident to perform on stage.
This will support them in their careers in the future.”
For Tianchai, there is also much personal
satisfaction in the schools. “I can see the students progress.
I can see the satisfaction of the parents. I can see the love
between the parents and their kids. It is really touching and
makes me feel so happy.”
Brave and confident his students may become,
but some have also gone on to professional singing careers. He
has two students about to release their own albums and others
who have been contracted to major record companies. There is
another singer whom Tianchai intends to record himself - his
father! Tianchai has found that his father does have an
excellent singing voice, so even though his parents were not
initially supportive of their son’s direction in life, one can
see where he inherited the talent! “My parents now accept me
and are very happy with me,” said Tianchai modestly.
Running two schools is time consuming, so
Tianchai does not have all that much time left for hobbies,
after his normal 60 hour week. However, he still has something
in his mind regarding clothes design and designs many of his own
outfits. But his major non-music interest is cooking, enjoying
preparation of gourmet meals in all types of cuisine.
As far as the future is concerned, it is here in Chiang Mai.
“I really enjoy what I am doing now, and I will hang onto
that.” I would have to concur, as Tianchai made it very
obvious all through the interview, in body language alone, just
how much singing really means to this young man.