<< -- 2 -- Keith Bramich Being truthful to the music
Musical life in China
Born in the 1970s, Chenyin has seen big changes in her country, and to
its relationship with Western music. I asked her about learning the piano
in China. 'When I was little -- about twenty years ago -- it really wasn't
popular -- most people hadn't heard of this Western instrument. Some children
were learning, but information was very rare. My parents made great efforts
to find recordings, books and sheet music.'
'Nowadays, since China opened its gates to the world, people have become
richer and don't have to worry about their living. The piano is now one
of the most popular domestic instruments -- many kids are learning -- I think
in Beijing alone there are 30,000 little pianists.'
Chenyin explained that families living in the apartment blocks of China's
big cities become more developed domestically than in the West because of
the lack of space. 'Kids don't have many playgrounds, families spend more
time at home and people have to do something with all their energy. Many
families get a piano so they can do something constructive.'
Fate took a hand at the very start of Chenyin's career as a pianist --
no-one in her family had ever followed music as a profession, but an uncle
had stored a second hand piano in her home, and Chenyin's parents -- a software
designer and a geologist -- thought they should use it.
'I just started learning, wanting to play a few tunes. My first teacher,
Bao-jing Zhao, was a local man and very enthusiastic. Even at my very early
age he made me commit to always be truthful to the music. This is
so extremely important. For a young kid starting to learn, the attitude
of parents is even more important. Mine taught me that if I was going to
do anything, I had to do it properly.'
'I don't know how I got into the Conservatoire -- they only accepted four
students from the whole country that year. We didn't even hope to get accepted.
Afterwards, as a Conservatoire student, it was clear that music was my major
interest. It always interested me, and I had a lot of fun, but until I was
fifteen, I don't remember being madly in love with music -- only that I was
"on that boat".'
Copyright © 14 February 2002
Keith Bramich, London, UK
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