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 2,000 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 and are available to rent at a small fee.

Experience the Pipa with Instructor Zhou Yi

For Adults (Ages 15+)

Pipa Beginner VI (via ZOOM)

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, and historical stories behind some of pipa’s famous repertoire, such as Ambushing from Ten Sides 十面埋伏. Fingering techniques include “tan, tiao, lun” (plucking, tremolo) for the right hand and “tui, la, yin, rou” (various vibratos, pitch changing, and string-bending) for the left hand. After completing all levels, 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.

To participate the class online, students must have a Pipa.

Class Schedule and Tuition

8 sessions (20 hours)
Saturday, April 17 – June 5
8:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Tuition: $680 member / $720 non-member
Non-Refundable Registration Fee: $30.00
Maximum Number of Students: 6

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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.

Pipa Intermediate I (Level I – Level VI)

Course Description:

This course is designed for intermediate students who are seeking a more advanced skill level. Students will gain knowledge of pipa’s performance aesthetics of civil and martial styles. They will learn to play different styles such as imperial court music, traditional, folk, and contemporary music. They will also learn to appreciate and gain a deeper understanding of the historic depth underlying some of pipa’s famous repertoire, such as: Spring, River, Flower, Moon and Night 春江花月夜. After finishing all levels, students will be ready to perform in front of an audience and get performance opportunities to join a professional team.

Class Schedule and Tuition

Sundays, 6 Sessions (12 hours)
Time: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Dates: 4/12, 19, 26, no class on 5/3, 5/10, 5/17, no class on 5/24 & 5/31, 6/7

Tuition: $540
Non-Refundable Registration Fee: $30
Maximum Number of Students: 6

Postpone until further notice