Learning Things The Chinese Way–Quickflight

by bria4123 on October 1, 2012


I started playing a bongo drum in my Beijing hostel’s restaurant, and this young woman asked me to give her a drumming lesson.

Bongos are very popular in China. I saw many stores all over the country selling them, and folks enjoy each other’s company by beating them together. But this woman, and the many people who asked me for a guitar lesson, impressed me.

She and the other students took music seriously, and they approached it very dilligently.  Before we started hitting the skin, I spent several minutes explaining theory–pay attention to the song’s beat and complement it. She listened attentively.

Then I explained mechanics of drumming–it’s mostly in the wrists. I was afraid that she would become bored with all the pre-bashing talk, but she kept asking questions in order to learn more.

After showing her some basic rhythms to practice, I ate lunch. She sat next to me and kept practicing. I finally had to stop the lesson–after about an hour, she said that her wrists hurt. I told her that drumming and guitar students should immediately rest when they begin to feel pain, otherwise they can get RSI and mess up their hands.

Later, in Yunnan, I had to stop a guitar lesson for this reason.

But people in China appreciate music very deeply, and they study diligently. It was always a joy to teach them because they were such eager students.

But they also taught me in the process. Chinese ears reflect the country’s ancient culture. I found that people in China listen to music in a different way than I do. We’ll explore this in the next post, Chinese Ears–Hearing Music The Chinese Way.


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