A Chinese girl's road to fulfilling her cello dream

Updated: 2013-07-03 11:04


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Tianjin, Melbourne, London... when this Chinese girl first touched a cello 20 years ago, she hadn't realized that the stringed instrument would lead her halfway around the globe.

"My first music teacher once told me that it is hard to become a musician, because it would be a life-long profession which you can never change," said Linda Lin, whose Chinese name is Lin Yan. "But my biggest dream now is to travel with my cello, playing in every corner of the world."

The interview with Linda was on a rainy day. When she waited by a busy road holding an umbrella, her long hair ruffled by the wind, it was easy to recognize her as a musician.


Linda was born in northern China's Tianjin municipality. Her father was a physicist, but his hobby was playing erhu, a traditional Chinese bowed instrument with two strings. Her mother loved classical music. Believing it good for the brain of young children, she played the music every day for her daughter.

"I was very naughty as a kid, but whenever my mom played to me classical music, I would calm down and fall asleep quickly," Linda recalled. In such a family, it was natural for her to fall in love with music.

At four-and-a-half years old, Linda told her parents that she wanted to learn piano. "But at that time, it was not easy to find a good piano teacher, and pianos were prohibitively expensive in Tianjin," she said.

Her parents turned down her request, but as compensation decided to have her learn something else.

"They took me to a music school and let me choose what to learn," she said. Some instruments were very popular, like violin, for which many parents queued to have a word with the teacher. But apart from the piano, Linda was indifferent to other instruments.

Suddenly, she noticed that one classroom was extremely quiet. A very handsome teacher sat idly by a "huge violin".

As they entered, the teacher played the instrument for Linda. "He told me it was cello," she said. "It was about the size of a person, and the sound was just like the voice of human beings." She immediately told her parents that she would learn the cello.

Four years later Linda's father went to work in Melbourne, and she followed with her cello.

Her decision of later coming to London was the result of another accidental encounter.

Linda applied for law school at the age of 17. Had she not met David Strange, former head of strings at the Royal Academy of Music, she might have become an attorney in a law firm.

But after an audition, the professor who taught a masters class in Melbourne told her "you would regret for not pursuing your cello dream".

"At that time London sounded very far from me," she said. "I hadn't been to Europe before. The city was another mecca of classical music for me, apart from Vienna and Berlin."

Answering the call of her heart, the teenage girl arrived in London in 2006, starting her studies in the Royal Academy of Music.

A Chinese girl's road to fulfilling her cello dream

A Chinese girl's road to fulfilling her cello dream

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