Initially, Jing-Mei doesn't have the drive to succeed as her mother does. Her mother has many ideas for her to succeed. At first, it was to be a Chinese Shirley Temple. Then, it was anything out of Ripley's Believe it or not, or Reader's Digest. Jing-Mei's mother would also give her testsbut she failed them all. Eventually. Jing-Mei began to perform listlessly and pretend to be bored. Then, when her mother saw a little Chinese girl playing the piano on the ED Sullivan Show, she got the same idea for Jing-Mei.
After learning to play the piano, Jing-Mei learns easy ways to get out of practicing. As she took lessons from Mr. Chong, who was deaf, Jing-Mei found out that he was just like Beethoven. Jing-Mei discovers that she could fool him and make it look like she was playing and get away with mistakes. If she hit the wrong key, Jing-Mei wouldn't correct herself. She was determined not to try.
At the talent show, Jing-Mei's practicing habits show, and she truly learns what her mother wants. She was supposed to play "Pleading Child." In getting ready for the show, Jing-Mei would cheat and never really listen to what she was playing. When it came to the recital, Jing-Mei was so confident that she could pull it off that she started hitting wrong notes and realizing it. She had felt her mother's shame. As a result of the talent show massacre, Jing-Mei didn't want to play the piano anymore. Then, when her mother wants her to practice, she decides that she defiantly won't.
As an adult, having her mother offer her the piano again, Jing-Mei...