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The Chinese cello pedagogue shares his advice on helping his students to think for themselves
What’s the first question you ask a new student?
‘Do you really like the cello?’ and then, ‘Why are you sitting there?’ Often they answer, ‘Why not?’ Eventually they might tell me their parents force them to play, but whatever happens, students always remember that I asked. It is not part of Chinese culture for a teacher or an older man to ask young people these things, and many students will not have been in that situation before. I think it’s good for them. A lot of people who learn an instrument in China don’t like it – I didn’t. But now I do, and I tell them this. Asking the questions at least means they begin to think for themselves and start to have ideas of their own.
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