Since I was very young, music has been my absolute obsession. I can remember when I was 3, doing my little birdie dance to “Rockin Robin” by the Jackson Five in my tighty whities before bedtime, the cliché music I was listening to during my first breakup, and even the song playing when I first got off the plane after arriving in Beijing over six years ago.
I quickly discovered growing up that there is a song for every occasion and music ever since has been a constant companion. From waking up to going to sleep there was some sort of melody or noise filling the air, and just about every song I know has the ability to bring back a specific memory.
When I was in middle school, this obsession for music turned into me trying to make music of my own. I would hide in my parent’s garage for hours playing guitar as loud as possible. Practicing with my buddies, we would unleash our sonic terrors upon the neighborhood, jamming for hours. Once we even received what we regarded as a compliment from an upset neighbor, that we sounded like a broken ice cream truck. We took this feedback and ran with it, releasing music on CDs, tapes, and vinyl for about a decade and touring around America. It was an adventure I’ll never forget, and it introduced me to so many amazing and creative people along the way.
Music gives you so much confidence. It is an attitude that I feel is healthy for all involved and addictive once you start playing out live. There isn’t another art form to my knowledge that’s so direct and instantaneous. Many of the international school kids we interviewed in this magazine expressed the same feeling.
When piecing together the ideas for this issue, we assumed that many young people starting to play music wouldn’t receive the same opportunities we might have had growing up. We were delightfully proven wrong, as many gig quite regularly and even use the web and social media to spread their creative output. It’s much more efficient than handing out a tape or CD at shows night after night on the road.
We talked to Mike Qian (p31) of Beanstalk International Bilingual School (BIBS) about his unique views towards playing music of the electronic and metal varieties, and how he was able to break into the Beijing music scene. We also found a music school (p32) that is working to make music fun for those first beginning their musical journey. For our cover feature, we took Jason Wilkins, also known as DJ Jay 1, 2, to Beijing No. 55 High School to teach a handful of young music enthusiasts about his craft and to explain why he has a collection of 4,000 records and who knows how many shoes.
In Schooled (p38), we talk to two educators about how they use kinesthetic learning to engage their students with the learning process. This is just another way in which music and physical activity can stimulate learning.
As parents, there will no doubt be a time when our children are listening to music that we are out of touch with. Don’t forget that there is always a reason that these are the types of sounds they are gravitating to, and listening to these sounds may give you a glimpse into their lives. We would probably be more worried if they weren’t listening to any music at all. Remember, if it’s too loud you’re too old!
Photo: Fang Yifei
This originally appeared on p5 of beijingkids June 2018 “Everything Is Music” issue.