Her Story: Kasey’s multicultural instrumental prowess began at age 3 when she watched a Chinese drama on television with her grandmother and saw one of the female characters playing an ancient Chinese stringed instrument called a guzheng. It’s a type of zither, known for making sounds deeply evocative of nature, from raindrops to galloping herds. Kasey found a local teacher, An Hong Qiu, and proved to be a quick study. She has also mastered the pipa, a beautiful teardrop-shaped Chinese lute, and plays piano as well. As a member of an ensemble at her online school, she is learning to play the violin, too. (She practices each instrument at least a half an hour each day.) Kasey is the featured guzheng soloist for Las Vegas’ Li Lin Hong Chinese Music Ensemble, which performs Chinese folk songs and popular Western music on classical Chinese instruments. The 20-piece ensemble plays at local venues, including retirement homes, and Kasey loves the fact that her music is “making people’s lives happier.”
School: Nevada Connections Academy, seventh grade
Extras: She puts in a typical six-hour school day online and is a part of her school’s Gifted and Talented Literature program. A lover of languages, Kasey is fluent in Chinese and is learning French and Japanese. In her free time, Kasey enjoys soccer and volleyball, and is a self-proclaimed “walking anime encyclopedia.”
What she’ll be doing in 10 years: Kasey and a few friends from the ensemble dream of “going around the world playing at a lot of different places,” she says. She also hopes to become a pediatrician.
What they’re saying about her: “If she keeps up the fast learning, she could become a professional musician,” says Lin Hong Li, Kasey’s music instructor. Adds Lannie Green, Kasey’s mother: “She surprises me with how calm she is before a performance and how well she does onstage. I remember clearly during one of her solo performances the first year, the speakers malfunctioned and gave off a really loud noise. I nearly dropped my video camera, but she just kept playing—and she finished her piece beautifully.”