Well, the one reason my parents chose the pipa for me, it looked like very feminine, elegant in the shape, and also in all the poetry or poem described it, how beautiful women hold the instrument, kind of there is a subtlety. Beautiful music, very lyrical style, so I think that’s the reason. My parents liked the traditional arts very well, and I mean my father also painter, so yeah.1
But it actually looked elegant and looked beautiful, but not easy to play the instrument. It’s quite demanding. In some ways, the instrument cheated you, it looked so simple, and only four strings, but it’s so hard to play. When I started to play, well, yeah, I was nine years old, and quite demanding. I spent the time to practice with the special technique on the right hand, which is the tremolo. Oh gosh, take a long time. I’m still working on it every day.2
This instrument, it’s not like other Chinese traditional instruments, like a dulcimer or a zither. It’s easy to get into quickly, like a piano.3 You just bend the notes, you can play little tune. But pipa, you can’t. It’s like a string instrument. You have to know both hand, how do you play, and then next step you can play some tunes. So, I took three years. First year is basically just the scale and the fingering figure out. It’s slowly a progression to play this instrument.