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Keys to success?

Updated: 2014-12-03 16:29:23

( China Daily )

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Young piano learners at the city's Youth Center in Yichang, Hubei province, watch the teacher's fingering attentively. [Provided to China Daily]

Qiu Chenyun, a 30-year-old marketing employee with a State-owned company in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, describes the days when she was learning to play the piano as "dark and miserable".

"I had to practice three hours each day. It was so painful that I often set the clock ahead. I remember when I was practicing playing the piano, other children were watching cartoons on TV," she says.

Qiu's mother is a doctor and her father an engineer, and they wanted her to master a musical instrument

"I learned piano for four years but it turned out that I have no talent," she says.

"A piano always reminds me of those days when I let my parents down, when they would lecture me about why I could not play well and then draw the conclusion that I would be a loser if I did everything in same the way that I learned piano. That is why I seldom tell people I learned the piano when I was little."

Qiu started to learn piano at the age of 7 in the early 1990s, when an increasing number of middle-class families in China started to pay more attention to nurturing such talent in their children. It was also in early 1990s that the Central Conservatory of Music started to offer graded piano tests.

"There was a time when piano grade certificates could add points to children's scores for the enrollment examinations of some middle schools, and high schools, especially the top ones," says He Yi, 35, a piano teacher at CCOM, who is also a judge of the tests.

So many children were encouraged or forced to learn the piano, not because they wanted to, but to get the certificates so they could go to better schools. Learning piano was thus a painful process for many children. There seemed no difference between piano and math, which Chinese children are famously good at.

"To pass the tests, some children would just practice the four piano works required for tests for a whole year," says Qiu. "How can children learn to enjoy music in that way?"

Although the Ministry of Education has since banned piano proficiency's use for school enrollment purposes, learning the piano is still regarded as a good way to help develop children's brains.

Some parents with great expectations for their children are determined to mold their children into fine pieces of work. They regard a high level of accomplishment in playing the piano as one of the attributes necessary to achieve this.

"That is a reason why many parents want their children to learn piano, regardless of whether children like it or not," He says.

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