Study of Indigenous Chinese Instruments in Beijing, China

I. Proiect Overview

Objective: I propose to study Chinese Percussion and Yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China for six weeks starting in late May of 2001, with focus given to the social-cultural background of the music, technique of performance of the instruments, and the educational potential that will result from more proficiency on these instruments.

Study Design: Private weekly lessons will be conducted by Professor Li Zhen Gui on Chinese percussion, and Professor Gui Xi Li on Yangqin. New music for the instruments will be learned. In preparing for this remarkable opportunity, I have already researched issues pertaining to transportation, food and lodging, facilities, and faculty. A network of assistance is being established to facilitate the problems associated with living and studying in China for six weeks.

Anticipated Results: By pursuing this opportunity for intensive, specialized course work, it will better enable me to pursue my goal of a career in both world musical performance and ethnomusicology. Few Americans play Yangqin and greater mastery of the instrument will provide me with a skill set which will be valuable in the future as a performer and instructor. It is expected that I will assist Dr. _______ in his ________________ courses by giving lectures and demonstrations on the Yangqin and other Chinese percussion instruments upon completion of this project. In addition, I will be able to teach these instruments to the community through NIU's Community Music School.

II. Project Description (at most 3 pages)

Summarize the purpose of the project, describing how it will be conducted and including a timetable of various activities. Include a clear statement of the problem, question, or issue which will be addressed. Indicate how the proposed artistry or research is expected to enhance the academic experience of the student.

Proposal and Specific Aims: I propose to study Chinese Percussion and Yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China for six weeks starting in late May of 2001, with focus given to the social-cultural background of the music, technique of performance on the instruments, and the educational potential devolving from a greater mastery of instruments which few Americans play. China's Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing is the premier music conservatory in China and the foremost institution in the world for the study of both Chinese music and Chinese instruments. Students at the Chinese Conservatory of Music are selected through a rigorous screening process and the caliber of study is of the highest quality. To be accepted as a student is an honor. Because of the high standards and expectations set by The Conservatory staff, each student must be committed, disciplined, and professionally oriented. As Yangqin is a traditional indigenous Chinese instrument, there is no finer place to study this instrument and its music than the Central Conservatory.

Method of Study: Private weekly lessons will be conducted by Professor ____________ on Chinese percussion, and Professor _________ on Yangqin. Prof. ____________ is the Chairman of the ____________________________________________________ and has an outstanding reputation as a teacher and performer of Chinese percussion throughout the world. He has toured as a performer and guest lecturer in countries such as the U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Professor ________, a famous performer and teacher on Yangqin, has been teaching at the Central Conservatory of Music in China for over 20 years. His students have won countless awards in Chinese Musical competitions, and, as such, he is the most sought-after teacher in his field. At this point in time, both instructors have been contacted and have agreed to teach me as a private student, should I come to China and commit myself to a period of six weeks of intensive instruction. The possibility of ensemble work with other musicians is also being discussed. Letters of support from both professors are being requested and will be forwarded to the committee upon request.

Background and Justification: It is generally agreed that study abroad is an enriching activity for any student. I can attest to this personally, having been to Europe for a summer tour as a percussionist with the North Carolina School of the Arts International Music Program and also having spent last fall in Trinidad and Tobago performing in the World Steel Pan Festival Competition as a member of the NIU Steelband. I enjoy immersing myself in the mixture of new customs, food, sights, sounds, and activities that world travel offers. As a student of world music and ethnomusicology, I delight in the music and the sociocultural aspects of musical traditions which surround each instrument I play. My goal is to master many world musical instruments and visit their countries of origin throughout the span of my career.

Study Design and Preparation: In preparing for this remarkable opportunity, I have already researched issues pertaining to transportation, food and lodging, facilities, and faculty. Both Dr. ______, my faculty advisor, and I have personal contacts in Beijing for assistance including, but not limited to, translation, logistics, and orientation. We have already established a network of assistance to ease the many aspects of being a visiting student living and studying in Beijing for a six-week period of time. In working with Dr. ________, Professor of ______________ at NIU, I have taken two world music classes, had two years of private studies in Yangqin, participated for two years in the Chinese Silk and Bamboo ensemble, and am currently taking the course Music of China. By the time of my proposed departure I will have completed two semesters of Mandarin Chinese language, the dialect used in Beijing. Additional preparation will be undertaken by reading materials on travel, customs, and cultural aspects of China.

Results: Six weeks of intensive study in Yangqin and Chinese percussion will not confer mastery status of these instruments. However, I expect that my level of performance will be greatly increased by this program and that I will have much improved proficiency on the instruments. In addition, I expect to learn several musical pieces written specifically for Yangqin, which I can then share with my colleagues in the U.S. Upon my return, Dr. ________ and I will meet to discuss my course of studies. It is expected that I will assist Dr. ________ in his __________ courses by giving lectures and demonstrations on the Yangqin and other Chinese percussion instruments. In addition, I will be able to teach these instruments to the community through NIU' s Community Music School. I believe that the _____________Division within the ______________ at Northern Illinois University is committed to providing the best learning environment and offering the widest range of course selections in world music, its history, and its cultural background. To this end, the introduction and incorporation of the Yangqin and other Chinese percussion instruments into the body of courses offered through the Community Music School would be relevant and increase the prestige of the University by broadening the scope of world music at the university.

III. Proposed Budget (provide a brief justification)

A. Travel

Airfare: Between U.S.A. and China (Hong Kong) Cathay-Pacific Airlines, round trip ticket: $1150
Train: Between Hong Kong and Beijing two trips, one each way 300
Taxi: Between airport and hotel two trips at $25 50
Lodging: 42 nights $20 per night 840
Food: 42 days at $10 per day 420
Local Transportation: Between school and hotel for classes and practice one trip per day for 42 days at $1 per day 42
Music lessons: 2 lessons per week per teacher for 6 weeks, 2 teachers, 24 lessons at $25 per lesson: 600
Total travel costs: $3,402

B. Non-Personnel

Purchase of printed music $ 100
Miscellaneous supplies 50
Total non-personnel costs $ 150

Total all costs $3,552

Please note - I understand that the maximum amount allotted through the Grant Program is $2500. I understand that I would be responsible for paying for the difference.