Teacher sings sweet praises of school choir

China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-13 09:18
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Yang Bo, the music teacher, instructs students to sing in a choir at the Sanshitou Township Central Primary School in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui province. [Photo/Xinhua]

HEFEI-Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of pupils gather in the music room at the Sanshitou Township Central Primary School in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui province, to sing for about an hour and a half.

Although they are at a suburban school over 1,000 kilometers south of China's capital, the song they were working on recently was the theme song of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. "We've been practicing for about four years now, and we've learned at least a dozen songs so far," said Yang Bo, the music teacher who started the school choir in early 2018, one semester after he began working at the school on the outskirts of Hefei.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in music in 2017, the 28-year-old's dream of becoming a teacher came true. However, he soon discovered that he was the only professional music teacher in the primary school, where about one-third of students are the children of migrant workers. "Most of them hadn't received good art education before, but they share the same love of music. They have such clean and beautiful voices," Yang said, adding that he felt a great responsibility on his shoulders.

To support the students' musical dreams, Yang proposed a choir, a suggestion that was immediately welcomed by the principal.

The teacher then began to identify the most gifted and enthusiastic of his students. The choir started in early 2018, and Yang named it "Mi Yin", which means "sweet voice" in Chinese, in the hopes that his students would find sweetness and beauty in music.

However, recruiting enough members was just one of the many obstacles the teacher faced in organizing the choir. He was the only person at school able to play the piano, so he had to invite a piano teacher from another school to join the practice. Some of the members quit after a few weeks because their parents thought the choir was a waste of time, and that more time should be spent on studies. Yang tried his best to explain the importance of an arts education to their anxious parents.

He has sent countless recordings to students via online social messaging platforms to provide individual instruction, and he enjoys chatting with his students and answering questions in the group chat before he goes to bed each night.

The choir's efforts have paid off, as they have won two prizes in music competitions since 2018.

Thanks to China's recent implementation of the "double reduction" education policy, which aims to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring on primary and middle school students, more attention is being paid to the development of recreational and sporting activities. The school has offered concrete support in terms of facilities and funds to ensure the future success of the choir.

Currently, it has 37 members, ranging from second to sixth graders. "Through the choir, I've learned to persevere and cooperate with other members," said Liu Beixi, a fifth grader who loves singing and joined the choir three years ago. The choir is now preparing for another competition. "I hope they will enjoy the process and continue to chase their musical dreams," Yang said.


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