Friday, April 8, 2011

I'm in love...

With the 琵琶(pi2pa2).

Back story:

Last week, I started going to a Chinese music class. It was the first class, so we didn't really do much besides introduce ourselves and talk about what music we like. There were only five of us in the class, but that included two Koreans who could barely speak Chinese or English. Therefore, communication was rather difficult.

Today, I just got out of the second class. I was the only student there from last week, but this may just be because the time was changed this week. Our teacher brought three students from the Qingdao school of music. One of them plays the 二胡 (er4hu2), which is sometimes called a "Chinese fiddle." Another girl plays what I believe is called a 笛子 (di2zi), which is a type of flute. The third girl brought a beautiful 琵琶 (pictured to the right).

I felt rather silly with my little ukulele.

The class wound up being a lovely musical exchange. We played for each other and let each other try our instruments. I was dreadful at the 二胡. As with other bow instruments that I've tried, it is pretty easy to make it sound terrible. I think I accomplished that especially well. Apparently, for a first-timer I did pretty well at the 笛子, by which I mean I was able to make noise...sometimes. After I was practicing it for a little while, the girl whose instrument it was asked me if I was left handed. I said no, and then she told me that in that case I was playing it backwards. Oops.

With the 琵琶 on the other hand, it was relatively easy to make it sound nice. I find that I can pretend like I know what I'm doing with most stringed instruments (excluding those with a bow). The girl who brought it was fantastic. She's twenty years old and has been studying it since she was six. She showed me a little bit of the technique. The right hand finger plucking technique is exactly opposite that which I've practiced on the guitar for seven years. Instead of pulling your fingers toward the hand to pluck the strings, you push them away from the hand. Needless to say, that was a little difficult for me to get.

Now, I really want to learn how to play it. I've wanted to learn a Chinese instrument for a while now, and having tried it, that desire has increased exponentially. Everyone could tell how interested I was, and the 琵琶 player and I exchanged numbers after class so we can make friends and maybe she can teach me. My teacher also said that she has friends in a band and that sometime she will take me to see them play.

I'm extremely excited. Can I please just live in China forever?

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