What drew you to the Pipa?  

It all began with my father. My father was a Pipa performer in a traditional Chinese orchestra as well as a teacher of Pipa. When he was giving lessons, I would pay attention to his teachings at a distance because I was too small to join – that’s when I first found music and Pipa interesting – I wanted to be a part of them. One day, my father asked me to pluck the strings of the Pipa after his demonstration. I did but he didn’t say a word. After a month or so, he started to teach me Pipa, one on one. I was seven years old that year. Perhaps he saw my Pipa potential from my first few plucks. We were too poor to afford a suitable sized Pipa, so my father hung the Pipa from the ceiling so that I was able to hold and play the instrument.

As a child, I sometimes envied my friends who could play light-heartedly in the fields while I was staying at home and practising the Pipa I could barely hold every day. But it was my father’s determination and persistence that helped me to overcome...