Microcampus is a once in a life time experience. An experience in culture and understanding. An experience in personal growth and friendship. Together a group of 16 kids travel to Xizhou in order to learn more about themselves, their topics and the lifestyle they will soon have to adapt to. Along with the rest of the people here I chose a topic that I would research in order to find out as much information as I could about it. Though the choices to choose from were extensive and covered a wide variety of areas my choice was quite clear. In the end I chose Bai Minority Music as my main issue to research.
I chose Bai Minority Music as my topic in order to increase my knowledge on different types of music. Music has been always been such a big part of my life since I was little. My parents both played many musical instruments and they pushed me to learn. Eventually I gained a love for music, I would have to say that music is one of the most important aspects of my life. For my entire life I have been playing, listening and feeling music. As I had never heard Bai Minority Music before I believed that it would be an interesting thing to listen to and research. Before coming to Xizhou I had very high ideals and opinions of music. Since coming here I have thought of music differently.
Over the course of my stay here in Xizhou I have met many people who have all become valuable sources of information. Along with the background research I completed before coming to Xizhou I have had many interviews with people. I have had many interview with people residing in the center. In total I have had 11 interviews and the information from those interviews are recorded within my phase 3. Their names are Andrew, Mr.Linden, Mr. Craig, Mr. T, Ms. Mai, Su Mei, Frank, Seb, Isabelle, Xiao Tang and Annaliese. Other than that I have had 5 interviews with people residing in the village. Their names are Mr. Zhao the leader of the bands, Mr. Yang the guard at YangZhouRan, Mr. Dong the 88 year old scholar, Mr. Zhang the instrument maker, and Mr. Zhang the one the plays Erhu in one of Mr. Zhao’s band.
I choose these sources because they each have different viewpoints and understandings of music as a whole. At first for my 3-5’s I tried to have as many interviews as possible in order to get as much information as I could. I began to get more specific with my interviews in the village. I chose Mr. Zhao as since he is the leader of many Bai Minority bands he would know quite about the instruments and the music. Mr.Yang is an elderly guard at Yangzhouran and I believed that he would know at least a little bit of information about Bai music. Mr.Dong is an 88 year old scholar who has been living in Xizhou for quite a long time. According to several of my 3-5’s Mr. Dong would be a good source as he has several of the same ideals as me. Mr. Zhang I met through Mr. Zhao and as he played an instrument he was able to . Finally Mr. Zhang was my teacher that I found through several interviews. As he is an instrument maker I believe that he was able to share many important views and ideas.
At first I was trying to answer questions that related to music in general. I had questions involving instruments, history, and the music in general. Eventually after spending a lot of time in the village I completely refocused the direction of my topic. I changed from an overview of instruments all the way to my search for authenticity in music. I began to wonder about whether the music being played was really authentic or not.
Any attempt to illustrate my journey of discovery about the authenticity of Bai Minority Music, must involve experiences dealing with illusion, revelation, and choice. I came to Xizhou in order to experience Bai Minority Music, in order to hear and feel what it sounded like. I went through many different phases and sorted through many thoughts in order to understand the people, the music and the information I was gathering. Sharing My Understanding:
I will be sharing my learning within the video above.
This project and this feeling is something I will never forget. I have expanded my musical learning and cultural understanding so much after completing this project. I have taken away so much from this project, I have learned new facts and information about music. I have grown stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally I have created strong relationships with my peers, chaperones, staff and villagers here in Xizhou. This trip was more than what I expected, it was harder but also astounding. The lifestyle here is so much more different than Shanghai. Its much slower and laid back. I came from a more modern day society, from the big city. Since coming here I have experienced more about the world and I have changed how I view things, how I observe, and how I think. I appreciate the little things here so much now after noticing the differences from always living luxuriously. I have grown so much in knowledge, perseverance, confidence and personal growth. I truly can't begin to know how much I have achieved.
Over the course of my time here at Microcampus, my topic has changed drastically. At first it began as an overview on Bai Minority music but eventually it changed to my search for authentic Bai Minority music. I started wanting to know as much information as humanly possible about the Bai Minority’s music. Later it grew more focused and less broad. I went through many different phases in order to create my story. During my stay in Xizhou, I spent my entire first week living under an illusion. As if I was living under a cloud of fabrication. I believed differently about the music and its influences. After I had lived through that phase I moved on to finally "seeing through it all." I noticed the reasons for the music to be played and how it changed the legitimacy of the music. How the music didn't fit with my view on authentic music. I wanted to show people what I believed, I wanted to make a change. To do something that upset the balance of the music, not in a bad way, but in a way that made a difference. Later I chose to play a song. A song that has no set time to be played. People would not expect a performance, they wouldn't expect an instrument to suddenly show up in the middle of a crowded square. In order to make known my feelings, I choose to play a song for the promise of authenticity.
The most difficult part of the process was coming to terms with my feelings and how I viewed music. At first I had a jumble of feelings welling up inside me and I did not know how to handle it. That was the most stressful and exhausting part of the operation. I honestly didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t make sense of anything. Eventually after several a-ha moments I was able to make sense of what I felt and transform my entire project.
I had several a-ha moments but the most important one was when I watched Mr.Dong play those instruments. At first I was just plain frustrated with everything and myself for not being able to make a clear picture in my head. It felt as if my head was filled with an endless fog, but when I was with Mr.Dong and he played his instruments for me it made me realize that these moments were the most important part of all. I finally realized what I wanted to do after I watched him play. I realized that these small moments were real. Unlike the performances that were for other purposes these where evidently much more palpable.
This project has increased my understanding of music as a whole. I have learned so much about the separate types of music and the Bai music which originally I had known nothing about. I have realized so much more about the different types music and I understand to much more now. I have realized that music is different and special and is so much bigger then all of us.
Going out of my comfort zone was hard to achieve but I feel like this project helped me a lot with that. The project in a way forced me to get out of my comfort zone in order to interview people about their relations to music. If I had stayed within my bubble and decided not to ask people anything I wouldn’t have found out as much as I do now.
As music is such a huge part of me this project helped me to figure out a lot about how I view music. I have expanded my learning and understanding about the Bai music and the music in general. I have also expanded my learning about the different genres that make up music.
If I could go back to the beginning of this project I would tell myself to concentrate more on listening to the music and its surroundings rather than paying more attention on the information. At the beginning I listened to much to the numerous facts given to me rather than to the actual music. I listened to only the facts and turned the whole project into a wikipedia article. It was all fact and no feel.
If someone was to continue my project, obviously due to the different mindsets they might direct the project on a completely different course. Another person would unquestionably have different ideas. I would recommend them researching how to make the music more authentic or how it specifically it relates to tourism or festivals. But if I could I would definitely want to continue researching my project as I am sure there is so much more that i could learn.
Throughout my expedition here at Microcampus, I have met many people that have been priceless friends and sources. They have cheered me on and given me the strength and advice that I needed in order to conclude my enterprise. I wouldn’t know what to do if I had not had their assistance.
Mr. T: For creating Microcampus, without him this voyage would not be possible. The rules and advice he’s given us has helped us to go far. He kept us safe from situations that would have hurt us. He has given us countless lessons that has made each and everyone of us better people. I am indescribably grateful for all the talks he has had with me, for without them I would have no direction. I am especially thankful for putting up with my antics and listening to me rant on about my project and other things.
Ms. Mai: For listening to my problems and for always bestowing upon me helpful solutions. She has kept us healthy and moving for the past 28 days staying here. She has thought ahead to things that we would have never thought of. She always remembered to give us our daily vitamins and never once forgot. She has cared for us so much through our entire time and there are no words to describe how much thanks myself and my peers all have towards here actions.
The Linden Family: For letting us reside in the Linden Center. Without them who knows where our lodgings would have been. They have been extremely welcoming to us even though we in a way barged straight into their normal life. They have let us use their facilities and do our work in the comfort of the centre.
The Fearless Group: Without them I would be relatively helpless. They have provided me with advice, motivation and laughter to make my days here breathtaking. I couldn’t imagine myself traveling to Xizhou with anyone else but them. Scratch that I can’t want to imagine myself traveling to Xizhou with anyone but them. Thet all add something to this group that if one piece was missing it wouldn’t be the same. In short the fearless family will always be a family no matter what, we will always be friends.
Linden Centre Staff: I would like to thank several of the staff here for making our stay comfortable. Fay, Seb, Annaliese, Andrew, Candy, Tina, A Ling and many more have all worked together for a long time in order to make our stay here cozy. As well as that they have provided me with advice and translation help when needed and I am very thankful for that.
Mr.Zhao, Mr.Zhang, Mr.Dong and the Bai music band: Together they have all been great influences in my decisions and actions. They have provided me with advice and given me precious experiences with them. They have all put up with my project and answered my questions. They have made me appreciate music even more then I did before.
My friends back at home have all kept regular contact with me and updated me on any changes in their daily lives. They have kept a link between myself and Shanghai and have always asked me how I felt and if things were going ok? They have listened to me rant about my problems and though many of them don’t understand the experience I went through they have still listened though they didn’t have to.
Last of all, my parents. They have let me travel out here to Xizhou, and have paid for the expenses. They have always provided me with so much and this is just one on a list filled with many things. They have listened, read my journal posts, cheered me up when I was down and given me support. They have made this trip possible with their hard work and I am forever thankful.
Melodic. Harmonious. Mellifluous. Euphonic. Discordant. Tuneless. Cacophonous. Off key. All are words used to describe music and none of them are wrong. Music can be bewitching, but it can also be vexatious. Music is sound, but it can also silence. Music is all around and never leaves. Cars honking mixed together with the clamoring noise of people heading to work each morning, while not sounding anything at all like music is still part of it. Bai music is exactly the same. At first sounds like clanking, jingling, rattling, a mixture of sound. But the more you listen the more melodious it sounds. This Microcampus experience has exposed me to things I had never thought of. It has pushed me out of my bubble and forced me to become someone different. My time here has taught me much about music and how I feel. To understand my story one has to first listen to the music. In order to hear music all one has to do is simply wait and listen…