Sat, Feb 11, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Man missing hand learns to play erhu
斷掌拉二胡 聲聲動人

Chen Lien-chung plays the erhu.

Photo: Yu Hsueh-lan, Liberty Times

Chen Lien-chung, a 57-year-old bookshop owner who lost his right hand in a milling machine accident at the age of 10, enjoys the touching and beautifully plaintive sound of the erhu, a traditional two-stringed bowed instrument. Two years ago he took the first step in making his dreams come true when he found a teacher and conquered the difficulties of playing the erhu with a severed hand. Now, he performs the touching music of this new movement in his life’s symphony. “I treat every day like it’s my last, making an all-out effort to play erhu until the day I die.”

Chen grew up in an underprivileged family, and had felt inferior to others ever since he was a child. Prior to learning how to play the erhu, he would always hide his stub in his pocket, lacked confidence and never enjoyed getting close to people, but after learning the instrument he finally had the courage to take the stage alone, performing for the disadvantaged and public welfare. Chen currently practices more than five hours a day, so aside from time spent eating or using the restroom, the instrument pretty much never leaves his side.

“Using the wrist of a severed hand to push and pull the bow and the strings is very difficult, so the vitality he displays is even more astonishing.” Chen’s teacher, Chang Chiao-hua, often uses the story of Chen’s learning to play the erhu to encourage students. Chang says that without a right hand, Chen has to play the instrument in ways that are different from others.

Chen relies on perseverance and hard work, finding meaning in life by making up for a lack of talent through diligence. Chang says, “His performances are more meaningful than mine because I can only play music that sounds good, but he plays music that becomes a story of encouragement for people.”



1. to make an all-out effort /tu mek an ?l idiom

拼命;竭力 (pin1 ming4; jie2 li4)

例: The school is making an all-out effort to keep people from smoking on campus.


2. confidence n.

自信 (zi4 xin4)

例: What she lacks in talent she makes up with confidence.


3. disadvantaged n.

弱勢 (ruo4 shi4)

例: There are not enough non-profit groups in the nation helping the disadvantaged.







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