Ricefield volunteer Xue Xia (Snow) is an accomplished erhu 二胡 player, and has performed at several events, including our recent craft fair in Govan. Here she introduces the erhu, and writes about her experiences mastering this unique instrument.

My name is Xue Xia, an excellent erhu player. I have been playing the erhu since I was eight years old, for fifteen years now. I practiced so hard that I became excellent at playing the erhu at a really young age, and hence I have been awarded many honours for my erhu playing. Now, I will share my erhu experiences with you.

Erhu, a Chinese national music orchestral instrument, has over 1000 years history in China. The melody of erhu is like violin to some extent, but compared to the violin the erhu has a different appearance and method of playing. Playing the erhu utilises many limbs, including hands, arms and shoulders, with its right to left movement. Additionally, erhu music can be traced back to thousands of years ago, which was an important period for the development of Chinese national music. Erhu music brings together not only Chinese music but also Chinese philosophy, Chinese literature and Chinese aesthetics, therefore, it is a representative of Chinese national orchestral music. Importantly, erhu has become a symbol of eastern culture in people’s minds, and it has also, therefore, become a tool and a platform to disseminate Chinese culture to the world.

My uncle first taught me about playing the erhu. He is also an erhu player in a musical troupe, and has thirty years of teaching experience. Every vacation, I would leave my hometown and go to the city where my uncle lives to learn how to play it. During these periods, I was playing the erhu for 6-7 hours every day, practising different compositions. During the school term, when I returned to my hometown, I learnt from erhu teachers from a musical agency. I changed to different teachers successively as I advanced stages, because my playing skills improved at a very young age.

Finally, I obtained the tenth and top grade ‘A’ of erhu at the age of 12, and was awarded a certificate of arts grade examination of China. When I was 13, I was awarded the third place in an erhu contest between teenagers in the first arts week of my home province in 2007. In 2012, I was honoured with the secondary award of the Arts Speciality Students in Erhu Professionalism at Tsinghua University.

I am very proud of the honours and awards I have obtained, and I am happy to continue exploring this musical instrument.

Watch Xue Xia perform two songs on her erhu below.