How the Chinese relate to western music

September 30, 2011

This was actually written as a comment to one of our blog postings, but since Rupert’s story is such a great example of how Chinese people relate to western music and culture we decided to post it as a regular blog entry. Thanks, Rupert!

“Hi there, I have just stumbled upon your site and find it incredibly interesting. I am a 20 year old music student from England and I am studying at Liverpool University.

From September 2009 to January 2010, I was in Yantai, Shandong provence in China teaching English at a school which ranged from kindergarten to high school. I taught english to primary school students and found it the most interesting and also strange country (in a great way). I used music a lot in my teaching playing for the students and teaching them English songs to sing along to.

I made friends with older students at the school, who are so desperate to speak English with foreigners as it is so important for them to speak English, I made friends with a group of 17 and 18 year olds who had a rock band! I couldn’t believe my luck, soon I was playing with them every night, they were so welcoming and I ended up playing guitar in the band and playing a gig with them on the local university campus to hundreds of chinese students, it was incredible.

What I really found interesting as I got to make friends with these lovely people was talking to them about music and the knowledge they had about western music. For example, I would ask them if they knew bands like The Beatles and Elvis to which, to my shock, they would reply no and then would find out that their band’s name, “Raise Your Voice”, was taken from a film that starred Hilary Duff going to a music college and fulfilling her dream in America. It just baffled me and made me even more intrigued to find out HOW they heard new western music and how they were exposed to it.

The fact that Taylor Swift had manage to explode in China and was a huge star, intrigued me as much as the fact these amazingly talented kids didn’t know music by the Rolling Stones or Elvis. Also the use of C-Pop in shops and everywhere was baffling but welcome.

In my course at the moment, Music/Popular Music, at Liverpool University I studying many different modules but my most interesting module is Music and Culture and the role of music in any given culture, I have used some of my experience in this but really will draw upon it more over the 3 year course. My course tutor is Anahid Kassabian, a leading writer in ubiquitos music and the use of music in everyday life and this in China was such a huge area that I am only now beginning to apply to my trip that was over 2 years ago now.

I would love to know more of your experience of music in the Chinese market (…) and how they relate to mine.”

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