Over the course of two weeks, from July 13th to July 27th, I set out on a journey to discover and learn new knowledge overseas. From visiting museums about overseas Chinese to joint projects with students from different areas of China. The time spent in china was not wasted, from day one in Hong Kong and experiencing the vast variety of options a 7-eleven convenience offers, to visiting a music store filled with new instruments. We explored our own instruments and the greater possibilities offered in china, for myself this includes buying a new instrument case that is very rare in Canada but common in China. As the journey continues we move to Taipo, one stop on the way to Dongguan, also our very first performance. We explored a school that looks like a middle school, all the students practicing hard inside, even young kids learning the cello and how to read music most students in Canada don’t see until high school. A quick rehearsal demonstrates each groups abilities, these students who study from young to current all seem so much more experienced. As we travel and play with more groups we can see the different styles each school/group has. For our regular combined piece, “Golden Snake“, our orchestra plays it in G key for Dizi on a G flute however some groups play it on a D flute using an alternate fingering. It may be because their conductor believes the sound comes out more in this flute or because it is a more advanced way of teaching especially since it is learning how to play different keys on one flute, something both our groups have in common. As we continue through china we stop at a youth recreation center in Dongguan, the students seem to be given a wide range of opportunities something I wish we had in Canada. Each room is big and dedicated to a different instrument, there are guzhengs, guitars, clarinets, violins etc…A combination of both Chinese and Western cultures. Each place we visited we learned more about what it meant to be playing our instruments. Sometimes we would hit that language barrier people expect but it does not mean we can not communicate entirely with the other group. In Dongguan we performed with another youth orchestra, I personally stood beside a younger girl who could not speak English and I myself can not speak Chinese. However, I did not need words to help her with our combined music piece, I just pointed to the section and played it on my instrument so she could see what we are doing since both groups have their own interpretation to the music. Dongguan was our longest stop, we became part of a cultural camp set up by the government for overseas Chinese. I met students from Australia, France, China and Malaysia who were all very friendly, they all tried their best to accommodate a non-Chinese speaker and I would say that they all had a fairly decent hold on English. They taught me about one of the pieces my orchestra performed, “Little Apple“, which I had no idea was so popular. I got to experience the traditional dance associated with this song and make friends that hopefully I can stay in contact with. On our last day we had a midnight party where we all exchanged a kind of motto so as to stay in touch, it goes along the lines of “we will meet again”. After the sadness of partings we moved on to our last two destinations. A performance in Jiangmen and another in Naihai. The performance in Naihai was held at a Experimental school where all the girls seemed to be very outgoing while the guys were a little more shy. All in all, this trip let me see the full Chinese experience while learning new styles of music that seemed to be a fusion between two cultures. One of which was called Cantonese opera which was an amazingly high pitched voice with an even more amazing appearance. If I were to set some goals after coming back from this experience, one would be to
learn how to play three flutes at once like my flute teacher, and another is to study more flutes and learn more keys. Hopefully if there is a trip like this available next year I can come back and show my newly acquired skills.