How learning Chinese folk music helped a child build confidence
Story of Child-Friendly Spaces
Xiaolin is a 13-year-old boy from Dianjiang County, West China’s Chongqing. His father is a tradesman in the community who works with plaster and his mother does farm work and takes care of him and his two siblings. He was a shy boy and didn’t feel comfortable expressing himself. But that changed after inspiration struck at a UNICEF-supported Child-Friendly Space.
Xiaolin was once considered by others as “invisible”.
A Child-Friendly Space (CFS), jointly supported by UNICEF and the Office of the National Working Committee on Children and Women, opened in a neighbouring community in May 2017. He was drawn to the centre to read and borrow books, but was always alone and didn’t talk much. It began to change when he started attending music classes.
The Child-Friendly Space organized music classes and invited a Chinese folk music artist, Mr. Long, to volunteer to teach children how to play the flute and the suona, an instrument resembling a trumpet. The classes are free and the Child-Friendly Space provides instruments that children can bring home to practise.
“After seeing other children attend the suona class, Xiaolin came to me asking if it was free, and if he could join us. It was the first time that he took the initiative to talk to us.”
A couple of years ago, Xiaolin saw a suona performance on TV and became fascinated with the idea of learning how to play the instrument.
Yang Yali recalls that his parents were concerned that the music class would have a negative impact on his academic studies, so they didn’t approve. That is until Yang Yali convinced them to support him and now Xiaolin’s parents are very supportive. They not only bought him a suona of his own, but also learning materials.
Xiaolin attends classes every weekend at the Child-Friendly Space, and practices at home two hours a day. He has learned to play over 80 songs, and sets a goal to learn the Song of Phoenix, a tune that requires exceptional skills.
“I like the suona. It is loud and cheerful. Every time I learn to play a new song, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. If I can’t learn it well, all I need to do is to practise even harder.”
Xiaolin has also made friends at the Child-Friendly Space, and is now more open with people. “There are many children at the Child-Friendly Space. We all like the suona, so I feel we have so much to talk about,” he says.
The change in Xiaolin makes his mother happy. She is so proud that Xiaolin has been invited to perform at school.
Xiaolin has decided to continue his journey with the suona and apply for music college when he finishes high school.
“My dream is to promote Chinese folk music, and help more people appreciate the suona.”