Lai Jiajun and Lang Lang rehearse together for a joint performance.
Lang Lang called him "Master Lai" after they performed a piano duet at the National Center for the Performing Arts last year. The totally blind 12-year-old Lai Jiajun let his fingers dance over the keyboard, and smiled as if he had noticed the surprise on Lang Lang's face.
Lai has magic hands and a memory that enables him to precisely repeat a song on the piano after listening just one or two times. He treasures the gift and loves spending hours at a time playing.
His hobby became his major preoccupation when he was admitted in June to the prestigious Middle School Affiliated to Central Conservatory of Music. Lai is now practicing at least six hours a day.
"I think it's strange when my peers and their parents ask me whether I get bored practicing piano for so many hours a day. If I am not enthusiastic about my hobby, what is the point of doing it? " Lai says.
Lai, however, is dissatisfied with his magic hands. He thinks they are too small and not supple enough to cover some piano pieces. Even so, he is confident that his hands will get bigger and more flexible.
Lai was blind soon after being born four months premature. He was put on a ventilator, but given too much oxygen, which cost him his eyesight.
Aged 2, his father, Lai Gehong, bought him a toy electric piano. Music quickly grabbed little Lai's attention. He played for two months and memorized the sound of each key.
One day, his parents found that he could play Two Tigers, one of the songs his mother sang to him every night. Gradually, Lai learned to repeat the pop songs he heard on TV and radio.
His parents wanted to send him to music classes, but hesitated because as factory workers they earned little and had spent most of their savings trying to cure Lai's blindness.
Even so, at a family meeting it was agreed Lai would start the long process of professional training.