Chinese American Children, 1954

C.R.: I had a Chinese-American friend as a child. Her name was Hannah. Hannah and I both played the piano. Because my mother was a pianist, I was made to practice pretty hard compared to my other friends – at least two hours a day from quite a young age.

Hannah had me beat by a mile. She practiced four or more hours a day.

Years later, I was being treated by a wonderful acupuncturist from China, (I only left because I moved out of town). Her office was in her house. Every appointment, as long as it was after school hours, was punctuated by the sound of either her daughter’s violin or piano practice. I never saw her, but would drift off in that acupuncture-induced doze to the strains of Bach or Mozart.

From the level of difficulty of the pieces, I assumed she was in her teens. She wasn’t – she was nine.

There is a stereotype in this country that Asian students, Chinese especially, and especially those born to immigrant parents, are top performers; at music, in academics, in their chosen professions, etc. Well, it’s more than a stereotype; the statistics appear support this belief. What is it about these kids? Are they naturally geniuses?

Well, actually, it looks like the reason is their Moms. Here’s one Chinese mom’s story that reveals quite a bit about one Chinese mom’s traditional parenting style.