In the halls of PLC, a new sound resonates, captivating the hearts of students and the wider community and bridging the gap between cultures. The mesmerising tones of the Guzheng, an ancient Chinese instrument, have found their way into the College’s Music programme.
Through Guzheng (pronounced goo-jung) lessons, PLC aims to foster cultural enrichment, develop musical skills, and promote cross-cultural understanding. This initiative, born largely from parent-led suggestions, began in Term 2 this year for Years 3 and 4 students and has already sparked the imagination of young musicians with promising results.
For Ms Xueyan Chen, the talented teacher leading the Guzheng lessons, the instrument holds a personal significance. She recounts how, at the age of four, her grandfather introduced her to a variety of instruments during a visit to the national orchestra. It was there that she fell under the spell of the Guzheng’s enchanting sound. Ms Chen’s career as one of the world’s most renowned Guzheng players all began when she developed a deep connection to its melodic tones, expressive range, and unique playing techniques.
“For me, the Guzheng transcends its role as a musical instrument – it becomes a medium for storytelling and emotional expression. Its various playing skills can evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy and serenity to melancholy and longing. Playing allows me to communicate and convey my deepest feelings without the need for words. It provides me with a means of self-expression and introspection, and it has become an integral part of who I am,” Ms Chen said.
“There is a Chinese saying that describes the Guzheng as an instrument embodying benevolence and wisdom. Engaging in Guzheng practice can contribute to the cultivation of wisdom as it involves the simultaneous utilisation of various playing techniques. This fosters cognitive development and enhances intelligence, especially in children. The fixed-tune nature of the instrument plays a significant role in nurturing children’s pitch sensitivity, emphasising the instrument’s importance in this aspect of musical training.”
One shining example is Alyssa (Year 4). Having dedicated herself to learning the instrument for several years, Alyssa’s proficiency and musicianship has only flourished under the tutelage of Ms Chen. Her performances are marked by impeccable technique, beautiful expression, and natural musicality. Alyssa’s progress on the Guzheng has not only boosted her self-confidence but also brought joy to others through her captivating performances.
The introduction of Guzheng lessons has enriched the Music programme, offering students an opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and cross-cultural understanding. With each strum of the strings, the Guzheng weaves a tapestry of emotions, connecting hearts and fostering a shared love for music within the PLC community and beyond.
Watch Alyssa (Year 4) and Ms Chen play:
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