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The Carletonian

A Thousand Years of Guzheng

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I have never seen myself as a decisive person, especially when the question comes to whether I should pick vanilla or chocolate flavor for ice-cream. However, perhaps under some sweet magical spell, my five-year-old self announced to the whole world that she was going to learn this incredibly beautiful instrument she saw on TV, and luckily she did.

Guzheng is a traditional Chinese instrument that has witnessed the trans- formation of Chinese history for thousands of years. A successful Guzheng player should be able to interpret the implications behind those thousands of years and present it through his/her heart. It is a long process that requires time, a growing understanding of life, and also a persistent love and passion for music.

Fourteen years ago, I was one of those kids who loved jumping around all day, getting exhausted running around and coming home all sweaty and still being unable to sit down and be quiet. So, it is not hard to imagine that it was a little challenging for me to sit still for hours every day trying to look for that “feel” of the instrument.

“Imagine you are in the music instead of simply playing the music,” said my teacher and parents. “You’ve got to feel for the music, appreciate it, live it and then present it in your own way.” It is always easier to say than to do. My parents tried really hard to help me feel the heaviness of the history or the sorrow of a tragic love story behind different music pieces, but it was hard for a child who was still learning how to solve for x in a simple equation to digest all those complicated emo- tions. Fortunately though, the feelings came naturally with time. I remember the first time when I felt the joy of people surviving from a typhoon and the warmth of the sunshine splashing through the clouds from my fingertips; I could never forget the moment when the audience was moved to tears and was immersed in my music long after the last note. I could not recall when exactly I had the realization that Guzheng was going to be a significant part of my life, but I am certain that all along, Guzheng has been there as an amazing friend, a mentor and a precious inspiration that resonates thousands of years of history, emotions and wisdom.

I was thrilled to find out that Carleton had a Chinese music ensemble, which was one of the biggest reasons why I chose Carleton. My specialty may be Chinese music, but my interest ranges to music from all over the world. I welcome and look forward to all opportunities that would allow different instruments from the world to speak together and create amazing works of music.

Please feel free to contact me ([email protected]) if you would like to make music together! I play Guzheng and a Chinese wind instrument called Hulusi, and they are both extremely beautiful (non-biased comment). And please feel free to contact Gao Hong ([email protected]) or me if you are interested in Carleton Chinese Music ensemble/classes and getting a taste of Eastern music!

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