Make/Work Episode 21: Mona Tian

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In episode 21 of Make/Work, host Scott Pinkmountain speaks with violinist Mona Tian. Tian grew up in Shanghai and started playing violin at age 3. She made her major solo debut at age 8, then moved to the US to further her studies when she was 12.

She speaks with Pinkmountain about her lost childhood, the pressure she felt as her parents invested everything into her musical education, and how she eventually had to discover her own reasons and motivations to continue playing music as an adult.

I always had a strong sense of responsibility and stress and pressure. It was those feelings of, if I wasn’t going to make this audition or if I wasn’t going to play fantastic, my life was going to be over.

Tian violin

Listen to Episode 21 (and subscribe to Make/Work!) now in iTunes. Or get the direct download. And you can now get Make/Work through Stitcher.

Every creative laborer has a different story to tell about how they negotiate their relationship between their creative work and their paycheck and how they balance their lives to sustain their creative practice. In Make/Work, Scott will speak with emerging and established artists working in a wide range of creative mediums about how they survive, how they make a living, and how they maintain their work over the long term. New episodes will be released every other Thursday.


Scott Pinkmountain is a writer and musician living in California. He is the creator and host of The History Channeler comedy podcast and has written for This American Life, A Public Space, HTMLGIANT, and other publications. He has also released dozens of albums of both instrumental music and songs including the recent No Country Music. He can be found at http://www.scottpinkmountain.com/. More from this author →