Children learn more music as 'tiger moms' relax

Updated: 2016-01-15 08:05

By Wu Yiyao In Shanghai(China Daily)

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Children learn more music as 'tiger moms' relax

Wang Keyi, 8, receives the top prize at the Steinway & Sons International Children and Youth Piano Competition in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in December.[Photo provided to China Daily]

After adjusting a stool to reach the grand piano in front of her, 8-year-old Wang Keyi takes a deep breath, sets her hands on the keyboard and starts to play the instrument. Swiftly and gracefully she performs to much applause from an audience in the thousands at the city's Ningbo Grand Theater.

Wang is the top prize winner for the group (9 year old and below) at Steinway & Sons International Children and Youth Piano Competition, held in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in December. She looks like any other girl her age when she softly pats her dress during media interviews after her performance.

"I feel happy, and I will continue to work hard. I enjoy music," says Wang, smiling. Her shyness comes across, too.

Wang's early success signals a change in approach to piano education among the country's more than 5 million children and young adults learning music, many teachers say.

As parents increasingly realize they need to expose their children to different instruments and enable them to imbibe a greater understanding of music, they take the children to concerts for "immersive learning", says Wu Ying, dean of the piano department at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music.

Instead of forcing knowledge through traditional methods, parents are now more keen to be seen as their children's learning partners.

Mao Yueli, 35, the mother of an 8-year-old boy, says she believes that the best way to persuade her son to practice the piano is to "take him to concerts, musicals and to watch films with nice soundtracks".

Her son learned Edelweiss, just two days after he watched the film The Sound of Music, Mao says.

"He listened to the melody time and again, and somehow worked out the notes on the piano even before he fully mastered the musical scale," she says. "I think he finds music entertaining, so I don't need to force him to learn."

Xu Zihan, her son, practices the piano for four hours a day. The pieces he plays cover a wide range of works, from late masters such as Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin to more.

Xu says he has yet to decide if he would become a professional pianist when he grows up because such a prospect lies far into the future.

"I just want to learn more pieces, so I can play well, enjoy these melodies and perhaps play for my friends," he says.

Mao often takes Xu to stage shows and painting exhibitions to help him better understand the expression of emotions in visual and performing arts.

Practicing the piano can get "boring" for Xu, but he says one needs to endure it to master the skills.

Experts say the more a child is exposed to diverse music, the stronger his or her passion for music may become.

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