Music is food for the soul for young Chinese violinist

Updated: 2015-09-10 00:22

By Cecily Liu(

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Music is food for the soul for young Chinese violinist

Chinese violin maestro Zhang Yijia.[Photo provided to China Daily]

He has experimented with the idea of playing violin alongside Chinese traditional instruments, including Erhu, Pipa and Guzheng, and discovered that these instruments bring out a not so obvious side of the violin sound.

"Because instruments like violin are so common today, I want to give my audience a little something different, and I think this can be done by combining the sound with Chinese instruments. The idea may seem strange to many, but I think if the music is beautiful to the ear, then I have achieved my goal."

Despite Zhang's numerous achievements, his road to success has not always run smooth.

He recalls a worrying time at the beginning of the year when he accidentally injured his arm, and had to rest for three months to recover. It happened at a time when he needed to complete a lot of violin practice in advance for his debut album recording, which had already been scheduled.

"I was very worried, as I did not know how quick my arm will recover, and I wasn't sure how I can finish my album recording without practicing."

Zhang kept himself calm and spent his days practicing the violin mentally, through a technique known as visualizing, for which he reads the music scores to search for the most desirable feeling. As soon as his arm recovered, he translated these mental notes into his playing.

"It worked very efficiently and I was surprised. I realized that when I was practicing again and again with my arm, I was just repeating the notes mechanically, but when I practiced with my mind I was exploring the emotions and inspirations associated with the notes. It was tiring, but it helped me improve a lot."

Looking into the future, Zhang says he looks forward to developing a deeper relationship with music over the years. His role models include the Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman and the Polish-Mexican violinist Henryk Szeryng.

For him, both Perlman and Szeryng are musicians who love music simply as it is, and have spent their lives bringing the best of their understanding of music to listeners with no other motives. He says this is the type of musician he aspires to be.

Outside of his musical practices, Zhang has a range of hobbies, including cycling, swimming, photography, travelling and literature. He is also a great lover of nature, often wanting to get away from the big city for new inspirations.

One of his favorites is Hulunbuir, in Inner Mongolia, characterized by open grasslands, lakes and mountains. "When I stepped on this wide grassland, I suddenly had an urge to take out my violin and play tunes that can express my feelings for these open fields."

"For me, the inspiration of music comes from life, and I want to record it down through my composition to share with a wider audience," he says.

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