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Mainz ProjectPeople always ask me, where do you feel you are most at home? Such a simple question, yet so difficult to answer. As an artist, one must cultivate understanding for all cultures and backgrounds, and have empathy for people in general. For how can an artist feel the vulnerability and fragility of beauty and life without empathy and compassion? Through compassion, one is kind.

This is one of the reasons why the question is so hard for me to answer. I always feel close to the hearts of the people, no matter where I am. I am Chinese, I am Canadian, I am American,  I am German, I am European, I am Asian, I am human. I am the sum of my experiences wherever they have been. Every culture has its own history, its own background, its own climate, its own borders, even sometimes its own religion. Having grown up in a family which has such a liberal outlook, looking at humanity through x-ray vision, at the spirit of each person rather than at the colour, political preference, religion, socioeconomic background allowed us to cultivate a gratitude towards life and its myriad of nuances and colours. The individuality of each person, yet the similarities between all of us, is what makes life magical, and fascinating. I don’t subscribe to any one religion, yet I feel I am more religious because of it. God knew what he was doing, making such miraculous, perfect structures which repeat over and over again with the most amazing variations. Ironically, it is only because of our similarities that we are so diverse. So I guess the answer is, I feel home is where the heart is, and it is with humanity.    

My father and mother both came from simple backgrounds, and emphasized the importance of respect for life, and a good work ethic. Patience, dedication, compassion, love, determination, quality, responsibility, moral conscience, all the intangibles of the human spirit, were fostered. They didn’t have the means for material luxuries, and they didn’t really care for it anyways. Character and spirit were much more important. Both were educators - my father in history and political science, and my mother in the math/chemistry area. Both loved music. Hearing Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Mozart’s Eine keine Nachtmusik blaring out of speakers at train stations in Taiwan didn’t stop there. Those magnificent sounds were to remain in their hearts years later in Canada where their three daughters were born. I distinctly remember how often my father would break into song, and not just in the shower in our simple home. Anytime he felt happy, a beloved tune would resonate through the house. He loved Dvorak’s Humoresque, Schumann’s Traumerei, Mozart’s Violin Concerti, and Chinese folk songs, maybe because he won a music contest with his beautiful tenor voice and got to sing on stage with China’s most respected singer, Sze Yi Kwei.

So it was that my parents decided that we should all learn an instrument. Their friends across the border had four daughters who were studying Suzuki Method so my parents drove us from Canada over to the US every week for violin lessons for three years before finding a wonderful Suzuki teacher in Vancouver. Actually, they enrolled me in violin lessons, but it spread like the melted chocolate in a fondue in the household. Both sisters cried their eyes out to also have lessons, and of course, my parents gave in. My sisters were much more talented than I was. I was more interested that THEY played fantastically; in other words, I was more focused on education right from the start.  And I didn’t like to practice. I also didn’t want to fail either. So in order to be able to play at all, I wanted to find a better way, an easier way. It was the combination of my parents’ educational background, liberal and compassionate spirit,  their love for the beauty of music, and my dislike of practice, which all led to my interest in education and development of my methodology. More