Yuan Li

Instructor of Piano

My Background: Playing piano was one of the first hobbies I tried when I was a tiny girl (around 4 years old!), because in my hometown Shanghai, China, every household would start their children’s music education in piano. And it stayed an important part of my afterschool life. Although from high school to after college, I got a bachelor’s degree in arts administration and worked as a professional for four years, my heart had never left piano.  So I picked up the piano when I was 25, finished my master’s degree in piano performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara and am currently pursuing my doctorate degree in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Northern Colorado. I have taught many students from younger beginners to college-level students and adult music enthusiasts. Currently I am a teaching assistant at UNC teaching class piano courses and private piano lessons.


What I love about teaching:  I love designing lessons to strengthen students’ skills in playing and expanding their knowledge in musicianship. I love to see students leave our facility with excitement and thoughts on what they’ve learned after each lesson. The other part that I also really love is the connection and trust built within this process, music becomes the bridge for me to know more of my students as a person, a growing musician, and a friend.


One way I help my students succeed and flourish: My teaching focuses on building a strong musical foundation and healthy practice habits so that students with different levels can all enjoy playing and play with confidence. Affirming what has done well and setting short-term and long-term expectations also benefit my students with high motivations. Also my students will be versatile from playing various kinds of music: classical, pop, folk, musical, movie themes and jazz! It is like having a nutritious meal with assorted foods.


Performance Experience  Apart from playing solo piano recitals, I have been an active collaborative pianist accompanying vocalists and other instrumentalists. I have also played band music such as for wind ensembles, and played for opera productions. I also performed several new composers’ piano works.



Hometown:  Shanghai, China

My Musical Influences:  I am fascinated by Prokofiev, Schubert, Schumann, and Ravel! My pianist idol is Sviatoslav Richter. My favorite musical is the phantom of the opera. And I love listening to Britpop, deep house, alternative rock and recently Jazz!

Favorite hobby: Cooking, gardening, travelling and hiking!

Favorite food: I’m so proud of my hometown cuisine. If you go to an authentic Chinese restaurant, start with “Xiaolong Bao 小笼包” (Pork-stuffed steamed soup bun) and Shanghai-style braised pork belly 上海红烧肉 (I can show you how to make it!). My favorite American food are green chili and skyline chili (Do you know what kind of chili is that?)

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