Pipa 琵琶

The pipa, or Chinese lute, is an ancient instrument that is both elegant and playful, charming, and adaptable to both traditional and modern sounds. The origins of the pipa date back to the Han dynasty, about 2000 years ago, when a similar type of stringed instrument was brought into China from Persia via the Silk Road. It has enjoyed wide popularity throughout its long history, especially during the Tang dynasty, and now again in our own time.

The Pipa has four strings on a pear-shaped body and fretted neck. It is played by plucking and strumming much like a guitar, but is held upright with the base on the lap and the neck at the player’s shoulder.

Learning the pipa introduces the student to a wealth of tunes and an exciting solo repertoire. Pipa can also be played in Chinese instrument orchestras and ensembles, and has found its way into world music ensembles in recent years.

In this beginning-level class, students will learn plucking techniques and basic fingering, posture, tuning and care for the instrument, and basic notation, culminating in the ability to play a few simple songs.

No musical experience necessary. Instruments are provided for in-class instruction.


About the Instructor, Zhou Yi:

Praised for her “breathtaking” meticulous technique and expressiveness by the Washington Post, pipa/qin soloist and educator, Zhou Yi graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. She is the artistic director of the Ba Ban Chinese Music Society of NY.

Zhou Yi’s select performances include: Tan Dunʼs Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig Germany; Young Peopleʼs Concert with the New York Philharmonic; Bun-Ching Lamʼs Song of the Pipa and Sudden Thunder with the Sinfonieorchester Münster; Zuqiang Wuʼs Sisters of the Grassland with the Ohio Youngstown Symphony Orchestra; guest qin artist with the San Francisco Opera in Bright Shengʼs Dream of the Red Chamber; guest pipa and qin artist with the Santa Fe Opera in Huang Ruoʼs Dr. Sun Yatsen.

Zhou Yi’s teaching credits include: Joined Carnegie Hallʼs Music Explorer educational program; a teaching artist with Flushing Council on Culture & Arts in 2019; conducted music workshops in public schools for the China National Traditional Orchestraʼs U.S. tour in 2015; gave lectures at Queens and Brooklyn public libraries; performed musical demonstration for students in grades 1-5 with the Global Language Project; a guest Chinese music instructor in NYU’s East Asian Studies in 1998. Ms. Zhou’s students gained the top scores in a number of musical arts programs and have been awarded in televised talent shows.

For Adults (Ages 15+)

Course Description:

This beginner course designed for adults will teach the basics of the pipa: fingering techniques, Chinese notations, scales, and phrase structures. Students will also learn how Chinese language, history, culture are manifested through the classical music. Some historical information revolving pipa will also be touched upon, such as the history of pipa and its major schools, performance aesthetics of civil and martial style, and stories behind some of pipa’s famous repertoire, such as Ambushing from Ten Sides. Fingering techniques include “tan, tiao, lun” (plucking, tremolo) for right hand and “tui, la, yin, rou” (various vibratos, pitch changing string-bending) for left hand. After 10 sessions, students will be expected to play short traditional and modern solo and ensemble pieces. For interested students, singing along is also a skill to be practiced.

Class Schedule:

Sundays, October 20 – November 24 (No Class on November 3)
5 Sessions (10 hours)
2:00 – 4:00 PM
Tuition:  $450
Non-Refundable Registration Fee: $30
Maximum Number of Students: 8

Register Now (for Adults)

For Children (Ages 8 – 14)

Course Description:

This course is especially designed for children, guiding them through a wonder path of discovering how the four tones of Mandarin transform into pipa music, and how Chinese history and culture are manifested through its classical music. After 10 sessions of practice, students are expected to be able to play children’s songs of their favorites and simple melodies based on classical poems from Tang Dynasty. They will also be encouraged to sing along while playing the pipa. Performance alone or together as a group is what to be expected at the end of the program. In addition, students will find answers to their curious mind, such as: What is the pipa and its parts made of? Why do Chinese scales sound different? How do you read Chinese notations? What is the pitch, beat, rhythm of pipa music? What are the stories behind famous pipa pieces?

Class Schedule:

Sundays, October 20 – November 24 (No Class on November 3)
5 Sessions (5 hours)
12:00 – 1:00 PM
Tuition: $225
Non-Refundable Registration Fee: $30
Maximum Number of Students: 6

Class Canceled