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From Melodies to Muscles: Yihao Zhang's Unique Journey

Yihao Zhang is a competitive athlete in the USA Powerlifting (USAPL) with some renown. The reason why he is impressive is not only that he has won first place in the powerlifting competition many times, but also that he is a young pianist, a Doctor of Music Art candidate, and a powerlifting athlete. People are often surprised by his versatility. In the eyes of friends who are familiar with Yihao Zhang, he is a conscientious and persistent person, and his persistence is not just superficial. His love for music and sports enabled him to continue even in the face of humdrum training. On March 24, 1993,

Yihao Zhang was born into a scholarly family in Shanghai. His great-grandmother was devoted to education and founded an academy; His grandfather was a chief engineer who was proficient in English, French, and German, he graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, on behalf of the Chinese government, he has gone abroad many times to give lectures, exchanges, and build factories; his father, Enwei Zhang, is a famous oil painter and photographer in Shanghai. During his childhood leisure times, his grandfather liked to play the piano at home and his father enjoyed quietly painting. Warm, artistic, and blessedly family atmosphere stirring up his musical talent early. The enlightenment of music is inseparable from his father's paintings, diverse styles, impact of colors, and a sketch of lines are continuous musical inspirations for Yihao Zhang.

When he decided to start learning piano, his father told him: "Once you make up your mind to do something, you must persevere even if the process is very boring and tedious." After practicing piano, his father would take him to exercise together. Out of the protection of his hands, unlike his grandpa and dad were comfortable and immersed in the football and boxing training they loved, he chose the most conservative lightweight muscle training. While strengthening his body, the muscle endurance and strength brought by exercise have already subtly affected his piano playing. At the age of 19, he decided to further his studies in the United States. He was admitted to the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Professor Phillip Kawin during his undergraduate and postgraduate. "My understanding of music was very immature at the beginning, Professor Phillip Kawin’s guidance and my alter laid the foundation for me to become a professional performer.”

If you love something, you could not stop wanting to do it no matter how long time has passed. When he finished with a Master's, Yihao Zhang tried to train in his favorite powerlifting and found that he had an advantage in strength training compared to lightweight muscle training. After he won many powerlifting championships and lots of first place in piano competitions, his family and friends were very proud of him, and they also gradually eliminated their worries about the “conflict between strength training and piano practicing”, because they found that Yihao Zhang would reasonably balance between the two and protect himself scientifically and effectively.

Yihao Zhang mentioned in many interviews that strength training helps his piano performance. It can be seen from his awards and honors that the two areas of training are highly complementary for him. Some music school students began to consult him about increasing muscle strength and control. People who have been mentored by him say that he has a solid appearance and a strong physique, he is kind and helpful to others and is quite responsible. “I am not telling them what they should do from the perspective of a professional teacher, but sharing my learning process with them.”

As a new young pianist, Yihao Zhang did not fully devote himself to touring but chose to continue studying for a doctorate, he feels lucky and excited to be one of the students of his most admired pianist, Professor Vladimir Viardo. "Professor Vladimir Viardo is a world-famous piano virtuoso. He often uses examples and stories from life to map the expression of music, I integrate what I have learned with him and what I am interested in, it makes my music more mature.” That, he said, was just the beginning, and there is no end to learning. Yihao Zhang is a quiet person. In addition to rain or shine daily practice and training, he often carries a bag of protective gear or music scores and goes to competitions with his wife. He does not repel this kind of "monotonous life", he said: "A tranquil environment will help me accumulate the knowledge I have learned, conduces to stay focused, it also made me think more about how I can improve the piano and powerlifting.” He is humble, positive, and passionate about life, and he intimate conviction that learning can be the force to lift a person's ability to new heights.


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