Banding together, modern technology opens new doors

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"The world is beautiful. Just listen."

That's the comment that got the most "likes" during the livestream of the Shanshui Folk Music Troupe. An introduction to the main members of the band might grant one a deeper understanding of the words.

Zhong Huile, the vice and executive chief of the band, is not blind, but almost. He suffers from congenital cataracts and can only see things within 10 centimeters; It was with this poor eyesight that he learned to play the normal flute, the oboe-like suona, the dongxiao, an end-blown bamboo flute, as well as hulusi, a kind of gourd-shaped flute. He has gained a reputation for his woodwind versatility among both bandmates and, a loyal army of online followers.

Zhong is also one of the two co-founders, together with Liu Jidong, as well as the executive director of the band. It was him that arranged its move to Xi'an and Zhejiang, as well as coordinating its internal relations and proposing the foray into livestreaming.

Liu, who is director of the band, has mobility issues in his legs and cannot walk well. However, he is good at business relations and is always on the hunt for more opportunities. Alongside Zhong, it was Liu that invested into the startup fund in 2008, and pulled together the resources for the band to survive.

Chen Mengjing is Zhong's wife, as well as his partner in performance. She had infantile paralysis when she was one year old, which left her with leg issues. Yet, she overcome the difficulties and learned guzheng, as well as other stringed musical instruments.

She is nicknamed "Chang'e" by fans of the band's livestream, because their most famous song is Song of the Heavenly Palace, derived from the TV series A Journey to the West, in which the fairy Chang'e is a main character. She and Zhong perform together in their own livestream, as well as with the wider ensemble.

Gao Xinxin is a special member of the band. When the livestreaming began and everybody was playing their instruments, Gao was just sitting there. Many viewers asked in the comment section who she was and why she appeared in the livestream.

All questions were answered when she opened her mouth. She sang only one phonetic syllable, "ah…", but it was the highest note of Song of the Heavenly Palace and her voice impressed everybody. She is visually impaired, but her heart is full of sunshine.

Erhu is a traditional Chinese stringed musical instrument, similar to a violin, which requires the player to hold a bow in the right hand to play it. Yet because of Wang Zhao's disability he holds the Guinness World Record included him as "the world's first left-hand erhu player", and his followers refer to him as "left-hand erhu".

Life might have closed some doors to them, but, through their own efforts, and with the help of modern technology, they have opened new windows to the world.

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