David Maia, Software Engineer and Pianist

The best gift that playing the piano has given me is my attention to detail and obsession with making beautiful code. I always strive to make a solution that makes sense within the whole and not just some slapped code that works.  I am also a bit obsessed with style and consistency product wide (I have recently been called a human ESLinter.)

My name is David Maia, born and raised in the amazing country of Portugal. I am a software engineer working at a fast-growing start-up. My main instrument is piano. I have tried playing the guitar and failed miserably. No idea how people learn this by themselves, hats off to you guys!

When I was at school, I was at the top of the class (albeit not a very musical one, so take it with a grain of salt) on playing the piano. I noticed I had this talent and knack for music, but I only really started learning classical music at the old age of 16 with a teacher in a conservatory. People who go through conservatory always end up singing in a choir, so I did that as well. I tried learning to conduct too; it was a fun experience.

What I truly love though is just the process of structuring, learning and refining a piece of music. It requires a lot of craftsmanship and discipline, which is awfully similar to developing software. I don’t like to memorize things, I prefer to understand them and I am both a very emotional and rational person so it was either music or engineering. I decided on the latter because of employability, timing and some peer pressure.

I have played/listened to so many of the classics (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Wagner, Debussy/Ravel) that I am currently trying to expand a bit on that and listen to some more contemporary things. Celibidache is the best conductor, period (haters gonna hate) – just listen to this! In terms of playing, I am trying to go through some of the easier pieces of Leo Ornstein. Bach is the most important, and I am also trying to learn to improvise a bit more generally.

I wish I could be all happy and upbeat about this, but honestly, I struggled for a lot of years because of not really following my passion. There were times where I just felt completely depressed playing piano and I had to stop. Right now I have (kind of) made my peace with the choices I have made, so I can play the piano in a more healthy state of mind. If I stop playing piano for a long time, I do miss it and end up needing it to refresh batteries. It is a very thin line because if I give too much to the piano my work suffers, and vice-versa. I still haven’t found the perfect balance, but I hope I will get there eventually!

I would like to just say something to all the people who say it is all talent and music must come from the heart and all that jazz – it is not. Music has rules; you end up obeying those rules even if you aren’t trained. It’s called the ear. Writing music is like writing a book; you need to figure out what you want to say to your audience and then use the mechanisms you can to make the listener feel what you want them to feel and wrap it all with a coherent structure with a beginning middle and an end.

My goal with my music is to give something new with my interpretations. Even though I don’t compose, when you know a piece really well it ends up being “your” music because it is part of you and you have your unique spin to it. This is what is amazing in classical music – no interpretation is the same, and each can have its own validity or be complete nonsense. The line that separates this is not as blurry as some people think.

For aspiring musicians, just remember it is a very hard and demanding field where you will have to do a lot of sacrifices you probably won’t want to make. Follow your dreams and ignore everyone who says you can’t.

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  • SaraBS

    Celibidache is the best conductor, period (haters gonna hate)… Not even disputable

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