About Usman


I began playing classical piano at the age of six and taught myself to play a variety of instruments using the internet as a learning tool.

 I am a composer, filmmaker and visual artist. After TED Global I have been traveling all over the world sharing my artwork and music with audiences to emphasize how we can use multimedia around us to further our talents.


English, Urdu

TED Conferences

TED2015, TEDGlobal 2014, TED2014, TEDGlobal 2012

Areas of Expertise

Art, Music composer , Music performer, Film - Directing, Producing, Writing, Editing

An idea worth spreading

I think it is important that people realize that they have the power to do anything. People who are no different from us did everything that was accomplished and will be accomplished in this world. They believed in a vision that they had and executed it till it became a reality. Nothing is impossible. It sounds terribly cliché but it’s very true. Once someone realizes this, they will be released from any inhibitions and will truly be able to fly.

Creativity and passion needs to be cultivated and harnessed in order to create something unique. People like Steve Jobs used to maintain that Apple remain at the crossroads of the liberal arts and technology in order to create their innovative products whereas Tiger Woods uses his imagination and creativity to perform golf shots that stun the whole world.

We live in an era where we have the entire worlds knowledge readily available to us. We are extremely fortunate and blessed to be living in this day and age.

I'm passionate about

I am passionate about harnessing creativity and enthusiasm into something truly unique. This doest need to be limited to art and music. Its an approach that can be applied to everything.

Talk to me about

Talk to me about using our experiences and knowledge to create something unique. I would love to contribute to anything that will be the catalyst to change and moving away form the status quo.

People don't know I'm good at

I love tinkering with technology. I follow tech forums actively. I also regularly track the development of the booming smartphone and tablet industry, the post PC devices that are shaping our world.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

Usman Riaz
Posted over 2 years ago
Usman Riaz + Preston Reed: A young guitarist meets his hero
@Lee Hansu, hey! Yes it actually was. Preston and I only prepared his first piece 'Ladies Night' a day prior to the TED Global conference performance. And then Chris Anderson caught us completely off guard to perform a second piece. Since we had not prepared anything we just improvised
Usman Riaz
Posted almost 3 years ago
How does the web effect the role model or mentor/student relationship? And can the internet be used to create more available options...
I am very grateful you enjoyed my work, thank you so much. The internet is by no means a replacement or a substitute to the personal relationship and bond one develops with their teacher which can lead to more personal interaction and development of the student, HOWEVER, I do believe it is a powerful learning tool. Having come from a classical music background (I am a classically trained pianist and have been learning from the same teacher since I was 6 years old) I am very familiar with the student teacher relationship. It has led to my development as a musician and an artist. I am completely self taught when it comes to guitar and all the other instruments I play. I admit that due to my early musical training it is somewhat easier for me to pick up other instruments than it would be for someone completely unfamiliar with any sort of musical instrument but that does not mean one cannot learn form the internet. We have access to so much information on the internet. I could just pick and choose the pieces I wanted to learn, find instructions as to how to play them, look at different players approaching a particular piece differently and incorporate ALL of that into my playing style. The internet is my creative environment. I can choose to be surrounded by the best musicians and artists and can try to take my playing to an even higher level. and this is not just limited to music. Any art form can benefit from the massive reach the internet will provide it, be it film, fine art, dance. anything. People learn by watching and listening, observation and exposure. the internet provides all of that.
Usman Riaz
Posted about 3 years ago
Usman Riaz + Preston Reed: A young guitarist meets his hero
Hey, sorry it didn't. I love Michael Hedges though, Ritual Dance was one of the first few pieces I learnt. not the Kaki King August Rush version where she change the opening off time phrasing he does. I love him. But they asked me MY influences. I started with Kaki and moved on to Preston. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just had a lot of fun on stage. Im more of a composer than a guitarist though. I am actually a classical pianist. Guitar is my secondary instrument. Hope I didn't upset you too much though. I love Michael Hedges. He is amazing.