I'm currently in Macau working on a project. The food here is fantastic!!! In my opinion, the food here is better than Las Vegas. I don't like the old-fashioned decor of my hotel room though. But the restaurants here are beyond delicious. Today, when I left my lunch meeting with my business associates, there was a live harp performance in the lobby of Hotel Lisboa. The sight of it reminded me of the many things that I quit while growing up.
No, I didn't quit harp. But at one point in my life, I was harassing my father to buy me a harp and also pay for my lessons. He refused after he gave me a list of sports and musical instruments that I quit. He said he would not want to waste any money on putting another big musical instrument in our living room. (At the time, we already had a piano and a Quzheng in our living room collecting dust.)
The sight and sound of this harp reminded me of the time when my fingers were bleeding and full of blisters because I was practicing on a string instrument called Quzheng. I quit because I was not good at it despite my hours and hours of practicing in pain. My teacher told me I would get used to the pain and sure there were ivory finger picks that I could tie to some of my fingers to help. But unfortunately, lots of the music pieces require the naked fingers to shake, flip and press the various tight strings on the left side, so it was impossible for me to wrap and protect all my fingers with the ivory nails.
After years of lessons and not doing so well in the Quzheng exams, I decided that I should spend more time on my school work instead. As a retrospect, I think it's an instrument that's more difficult than piano. Every flip of the fingers, and every movement of the head, neck, shoulder, upper arm, middle arm, wrists, are all coordinated with extreme mental focus. Then there is the facial expression. My teacher always told me that I needed to get more into the music because only then could I hit the strings with all the vigorous power and yet maintain the "light as the feather strokes" appearance. Hitting the tight strings hard enough to do the music correctly while making every stroke look light isn't easy. It looks easy but it isn't. It's similar to ballet and figure skating, that require precise movement, tremendous mental power and the physical power, which is so controlled that the audience can't see it even though it's there all the time.
The following song is one of those songs that I spent many hours practicing for one of my exams. I of course didn't play as well as these women... If you watch and listen to the whole piece, you will understand why I quit. The comments on my exams were always about how I was either hitting the string too light or too strong, or my posture and my hands weren't looking gentle and flexible enough, etc, etc... There were just so many blisters that my fingers could tolerate before I threw in my towel.