Updated 6 months 1 week ago


I chose Bai Minority Music as my topic because music is a large part of my life and I wanted to see how much music means to others. I wanted to know about the changes of Bai Music and the role music plays in people's lives. When I arrived in Xizhou, it was like stepping into a different world. Where our thoughts were worthless compared to the ones here. Music is everything and nothing at the same time. It just depends whose point of view you and looking through. I wanted to explore that world, looking through different eyes. I also wanted to find out the main source of the changes that changed this area of music. This topic had already been done before, but not this point of view of it. 

Everything comes from something. Therefore the information I include in my project has to come from a source. I have quite a few sources: before Xizhou and during. I emailed some UCLA professors, and discovered some useful websites. I started broad, only focusing on Bai Minority Music. I learned about the history, instruments, music composition, etc. When I arrived in the village, I talked to Mr. T, Ms. Mai, and Xiao Tang. These contacts helped me find other useful contacts. I met Ms. Duan, Mr. Duan, Mr. Zhao, and Mr. Dong. 

I chose these sources because they were all related to my project. I believed that they could each give me helpful and interesting information that I could add to my project. The internet was my starting point. The beginning of many discoveries. Although it can be untrustworthy sometimes, it did give me a sense of direction. The teachers and chaperones were a great help. They were already quite familiar with the village and proved to be an excellent source of information. The villagers opened up a new world of music. I learned how much of an impact music has on people's lives. 

There are many questions what I want to answer. Before I started exploring, I created a list of ten questions that would guide me towards my final product. During the trip, this list changed many times due to the lack or exceeding amount of information in one area. Listed are my ten questions:

1. What changes has Bai Music gone through?

Bai Minority has gone through many changes. The music has become more regulated and "embellished." More people have started to play non-traditional music instead of traditional music.

2. How and what caused these changes?

The movie Five Golden Flowers has had a lot of impact on the changes of Bai Music. The composer for the movie changed the style of Traditional Music and made it what it is today.

3. What role does the movie, Five Golden Flowers, play in the changes?

The movie can be called the main cause of all the changes. It is in the movie where non-traditional music is introduced.

4. What are the negative and positive impacts of these changes?

One negative impact is the fact that people are losing Traditional Culture. The new changes are more popular because of all the tourism it brings in, but it is slowly overcoming traditional music. Traditional music is now only practiced in the mountains, a play that is less developed than Xizhou. One positive impact would be all of the tourism and economical success non-traditional music brings. The movie itself has brought tons of tourism, but now music has become a symbol of tourism. 

5. What role does music play in locals' lives?

Music plays so many roles in locals' lives. It can play a social, emotional, economical, and many other roles. It really depends on the person. 

6. Has music positively or negatively impacted these people? 

I believe that music has both positively and negatively impacted the locals. One positive benefit would be, as I mentioned before the tourism and economical benefit. A negative impact would be the loss of culture, so to speak. 

7. Who or what caused these impacts?

The movie Five Golden Flowers has caused many ripple effects, and these impacts are ripples, and have been created by other ripples.

8. Why did musicians start to play music?

Music is a hobby to some, where as music is a career to others. They usually started because they love playing music.

9. How has music changed their lives?

To some, music has changed the way they think, they way they act, and the way they see things. In most cases, it makes them happy and relieves them of any stress they have.

10. What is music to them?

Music is more than sound to them. It is happiness, memories, etc. It depends on the person.

The answers to these questions can be found in Phase 3. The discarded or answered questions can be found in Phase 1. Please feel free to take a look at the changes my project has gone through.

Two important aspects of understanding the role of Bai Minority Music in the village are the impact of the movie, Five Golden Flowers, and the role that music plays in locals' lives.


I took away so much from this trip. I have grown stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have developed stronger relationships with locals and Microcampus students. This trip was definitely harder than I expected. People here think differently. They value different things. I grew up in a materialistic environment, where as some of the people I have talked to appreciate concept over material. I have changed the way I observe, the way I think, and the way I conclude. I feel as if I appreciate things more when I am here. I have developed confidence, perseverance, and determination. I have experienced the ups and downs, but made it through. I cannot believe how much I have achieved.

I did not expect my topic to change as much as it did. It became more focused. I started out wanting to know everything about Bai Minority Music. It is a very broad topic and would take more than a month to cover it all. After a few days of fieldwork and couple of "a-ha" moments, I started to realize the impact that tourism has on everything. It changed my point of view and I decided to see why there was so much tourism and how it affected music and people's lives. Then its narrowed down even more to a specific movie, Five Golden Flowers. I was still interested in the impact of Bai Music on local's, therefore I decided to focus on those two aspects of Bai Music. If I had a choice, I would love to stay here longer and learn more. But I still feel as if I have made a certain connection and discovery that can only come out of hard work.

There were some hard moments during my research. One of them would be right after I realized that tourism and other things had really changed music. I felt lost and didn't know what direction to go. There is a lack of instrument and music shops in Xizhou, therefore not letting me go on and research about instruments. I learned from Ms. Duan that music was usually taught orally, not visually. This block took away many of the questions that I wanted answered. Another frustrating moment was finding someone who could tell me the specific changes, and finding someone who could tell me about traditional music. When I asked questions relating to this topic, they mentioned how only people in the mountains still play traditional music, and how all of the changes were good. I was waiting to find someone who had a negative point of view. I did not get all of my questions answered, so I dropped them. Language barriers were also a bit troubling. Even though I know quite a lot of Chinese, I could not find the exact words that would describe my question. I feel as though I did the best I could, but I wish that I had more time to do some more digging. 

I had a few "a-ha" moments on this trip. The most memorable one would have to be when I realized that the movie, Five Golden Flowers, held a lot of weight on the changes of Bai Minority Music. It was after quite a few interviews and I felt dumb that I had not figured it out yet. I did some research on the movie and figured out that it was one of the main reasons that tourists came to Xizhou. Other than that, it changed music and dance a lot. The old ways were slowly forgotten and everyone was happy to learn new things. It was hard finding the people who still practiced traditional music, so I went looking for someone who could tell me about the changes. I finally found Mr. Zhao, the leader of a local Dongjing Band. He compared and contrasted Traditional and "New" Bai Music. This was another one of my "a-ha" moments. His information was very helpful and I learned a lot that day. It was one of my most productive days.

This project gave me most of my understanding of the topic. I already know a ton about music in general, but almost nothing about Bai Music. It is a broad and general topic, so I still do not everything about Bai Music. I have learned about transformation of Bai music and what can cause things to change. I also have learned about how important music is in the locals' lives. If not for Microcampus, I would have never learned any of these things. Of course there are still many things to learn about this topic, but I am glad that I have figured out this much.

This project has created relationships that I will cherish forever. I have spent many hours at locals' homes and work places and learned so much about not just music, but also about their life. I could not create these amazing connections in Shanghai. I understand this village as a whole better. 

I have learned a lot about myself during this project. I am much more confident in myself, and I have developed a new connection to music. I understand how music can change someone's life and how it could change my life if I pursue it in the future. I learned how to manage my time better and am really grateful for this experience. I learned how much I love music and how much there is left to learn. There are endless possibilities.

If I were to redo this project or go back to the beginning, I would have narrowed down my topic quicker, and finished my 3-5s even faster. I did have some slow days, and I feel as if I could have gotten rid of them by focusing on a specific aspect. For example, I could have from the start researched on the crafting of instruments, or wedding songs. Another recommendation would be to look at other Alumnis'' work. By looking at the research that Ying-Yang and Ethan already completed, I was able to focus my project better. I should have went through their projects a bit more thoroughly. I would have also worked harder on my Inquiry Project on the weekends or during my free time. By the time that you finish Phase 4, the due date for the Final Product is a lot closer than you think. I would have also read other Alumni's Final Products to see what their recommendations where. 

If I or another were to continue this research project, there are a couple of suggestions that I have. I would focus on the changes of music, both singing and dancing, or focus on the role of music in people's lives. These two aspects do not really blend together, and are both very meaningful. If another Microcampus student could build on the work I have already done, I would look into instruments, music composition, or history of Bai music. All of those topics are very important and could build a richer report of Bai Music.

I would like to thank many people for helping me throughout this journey.

Mr. T has not just been giving out helpful advice, but has also made this experience possible for all of us. He has kept us safe and out of harm's way. He taught us to appreciate things more and to never give up. I could have never made it to where I am today without Mr. T's help. All of those talks and lessons have really helped me.

Ms. Mai is a wonderful person. She was in charge of keeping us healthy and fit. She also made sure that we got medical help when needed. She was a great help during Service Learning, helping us translate.

Xiao Tang has helped me during interviews more than anyone else. She would not just translate the questions and answers, but also gave us other information and made sure that we understood what was being said. 

Fay has helped translate a numerous amount of times. She has also been a great resource and gave me many names to interview.

Ms. Duan, Mr. Zhao, Mr. Dong, and the Donjing Music Band are my local sources and have given me a ton of information about my topic. They have changed the way I see music and have made me appreciate what I have even more.

The Dynamite Group for all the laughs and amazing moments we all had together. It would not have been the same if all you were not here together.

The Linden Family let us stay in this beautiful compound and gave us access to the lovely Linden Centre. 

My Friends have listened to me go on and on about things that they did not know about, but listened and gave me updates from school.

Finally, my parents have funded this amazing experience and have cheered me up and given me support from Shanghai.

I would also like to thank all of the people who looked at my project and this website. We all appreciate the feedback!



Hi! My name is Rebecca and I am 14 years old. I was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and have lived in Connecticut and now, China. This will be my 3rd year at SAS. I am back in Shanghai and was very excited to be part of the September-October Microcampus trip! Xizhou is an incredible place with friendly locals and breath-taking scenery. I wish lots of fun to future groups and hope you enjoy this journey as much as I did.