Guzheng: My New Hobby

I know  it has been awhile and I am very ashamed of it.. but do not worry I am here now.   Many things have happened so I am going to write a few posts tonight to catch you guys all up.  The  latest and most exciting is my new hobby.   I have decided to start taking lessons.  I am going to learn how to play the Guzheng… for those of you who do not know what that is… I have included photos below.


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Yes, a Guzheng is a traditional Chinese instrument that was created more than 2000 years ago, during the Qing Dynasty.  It is a cross between a harp and a guitar… at least that is the best way I can describe it.   When you hear traditional Chinese music it is the main instrument you usually hear. It is very peaceful and sounds like water… or it can be very loud and sound like thundering horses…(at least that is what my instructor told me) … I have always dreamed of playing this Chinese instrument because of the elegance and the how feminine it makes women look and now I have finally been given the opportunity and I am as happy as a dog with two tails.  (chinese expression)

How did I get this opportunity you ask… okay maybe you did not ask but I am going to tell you.. because I am so excited.   I fellow teacher from Poland and I had dinner one night and we decided to take a look in the music shop close to our apartment complex.   When we first arrived we noticed that this was not only a music shop it was a school also.   We both got giddy… a little Chinese young woman came up to us… speaking english and asked us what we needed.   We both quickly said we want to learn an instrument.   She said … which one..we both said ..”I don’t know”… and started laughing….

That set the mood for the rest of the visit. They showed us around the shop and we looked at all the instruments and then I saw it.  The Guzheng…. and I knew that was what I wanted to learn to play.  I was so happy I started pointing at it and jumping up and down.   They thought I was crazy…. and I was a little crazy I guess.    The teacher was there and spoke English.. so she asked me if I wanted to see her play it.   I said…. of course.   So I went with her back into a sound proof room and watched her play the instrument and fell in love with it all over again.

That is it….. I was hooked.   She explained that the Piano was the King of instruments in the West and the Guzheng is the King of instruments in the East.  I said.. Perfect because I am a Queen. … Damn it.

She asked me if I was familiar with any songs that highlighted the Guzheng, I said “yes many”…. and then I said” there was even a movie… Where a woman played the Guzheng and then threw knives out of her fingers with the strings hooked to them…”. I said” did you see that movie?”  She got excited and said… yes… I did it was so cool… I was like yeah it was… can you teach me how to do that?   … she laughed and looked at me and said…. NO…. well.. I had to try.

So after that was set in stone and my first class scheduled… I continued my tour around the school… and noticed they had a dance floor and room to practice with mirrors surrounding it.  They had rooms with drums, cellos, violins, and many traditional instruments.  They had guitars and of course pianos.    Another weakness of mine… piano music.   I asked her if  I could learn piano too… she said .. sure.   So I did it.   I have lessons set up for both piano and Guzheng.

I am so motivated to learn both of them…. If I can not handle both with the practices and such… I will drop piano and stick with the Guzheng.  It is cooler and more unique.    It’s a skill few people in the states have or can get.

Ancient Chinese engraving of female instrument...
Ancient Chinese engraving of female instrumentalists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… begins a new chapter in my life…. I am following many of my dreams…. and I hope to be a semi-professional Guzheng player by the time I return to the states.   Hey … you never know… dreams can come true you know.  Who would of thought that a Black American woman my age would be learning to play a traditional Chinese instrument … in China?

until next time…


14 thoughts on “Guzheng: My New Hobby

  1. Lori

    Hi Jo, I found your description of starting to learn to play fascinating. I hope you continue in love with the Guzheng and become skilled at it. By the way, where do you teach English, and to what age group? Do any or many students ever go outside China to study English nowadays, and is it hard or easy for them to get the necessary visas and permissions? Blessings to you. Lori in Australia.

  2. Pingback: My New Love Has Moved In… | Life Behind The Wall

  3. Cool, go suck up all that guzheng knowledge and skill. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to play well. Maybe record something for your readers. …..

  4. Niwa

    You’re so inspiring! I am now motivated to learn how to play the piano after I finish studying. All the best and I hope you are able to do both ^^

  5. My mother in law can play the instrument very well and taught me a little each time. The only time I saw the instrument in Shanghai was when an old guy tried to fool foreigners into thinking he can play the instrument very well but really he was playing a tape. :O haha.

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