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China: Around The Nation

Blind Chinese viola player wins place at top British music college

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 5:57pm

A young blind Chinese man, who was told his only career option was to train as a masseur, is to study the viola at one of the most prestigious music schools in Britain.

Eighteen-year-old Wang Zian from Guangzhou in southern Guangdong province was born blind with detached retinas and began playing an electronic keyboard at the age of four, the news website Thepaper.cn reported.

He will take up his place at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in the autumn.

Wang’s musical education has stretched over years, progressing from a keyboard to the piano and finally the viola. His parents were quoted as saying that getting him interested in music was the best decision they ever made.

Wang’s dedication as a child was such that his fingers bled during some intense piano practise sessions. His teacher would hold his hands, pressing his fingers on the keys again and again to make sure he remembered each note, the report said.

But despite his dedication, a teacher at a blind school he attended aged 10 said he should pursue a career as a masseur, a job traditionally often carried out by blind people in China.

“You should learn more about massage as this is your only way out in the future,” he was told.

Wang was quoted as saying he hated the dismissive attitude that he could only become a masseur and that helped drive his ambition.

Blind Chinese teen violinist who commutes 12 hours for lessons

His studies were hard, including failures at several music schools, until at 13 he caught the eye of a viola teacher at the middle school affiliated to the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou.

Under her tutelage, Wang took up the viola, advised that people that people with poor vision were more sensitive to the stringed instrument.

As part of his dedicated studies, he would record each class so he could listen back to it repeatedly, mastering each new piece of music.

More than 200 students from China applied for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire last year, with only about a dozen accepted, including Wang, the Guangzhou-based news website Dayoo.com reported.

Blind Hong Kong student who reads Braille with her lips wins full scholarship for UK studies

Wang is now studying English before flying to Britain in the autumn, as well as learning personal skills to help look after himself, including cooking and doing his own laundry.

Wang was quoted as saying he hoped his example might inspire others to realise that nobody need have a set route mapped out for their life.