WKU Chinese Music club grows in popularity

Freshmen Choudy Teau of Cambodia practices playing the guzheng — one of the four instruments that students learned about at a Chinese Music club meeting.

Maciena Justice

Three years away from Chinese music was enough for visiting assistant professor Ting-Hui Lee.

Lee was a member of a performing ensemble at her last job in Arizona. Now at WKU, she wanted to have the same sort of group to experience the instruments.

Lee approached both the Confucius Institute, which promotes the understanding of the Chinese culture, and the music department at WKU.

“With great support from Confucius Institute and music department, I felt confident there is enough interest to start the club,” Lee said.

Now every Saturday, a group of students gather to learn about and play Chinese instruments.

The club is still in process of being recognized by WKU, as members work on a club constitution and elect officers.

Elizabethtown sophomore Branigan Lawrence is the club’s first president. The other officers are still pending.

“It’s a funny story, I was the only one to show up at the first meeting,” Lawrence said. “So by default I became the president.”

Lawrence said that Chinese music replicates nature and each instrument sounds like a different aspect. The zither replicates water sounds and the dizi replicates the wind.

The club now has 15 to 20 members and has grown slightly every week that the club has met. Lawrence hopes that attendance continues to grow, but is also impressed at the initial amount that showed interest.

“I was expecting two to three people to show up,” Lawrence said. “We had to put into our bylaws statements about sharing the instruments.”

Currently the club is working on learning the instruments – the erhu, the zither, the dizi, and the pipa – while learning how to sing the songs.

“It can be frustrating,” Lawrence said. “The language is hard.”

Lee said she hopes that one day the club will be experienced enough to perform in front of an audience.

Louisville senior Andrew Frechette said that he liked Chinese music and that this was too great of an opportunity to pass on.

“It’s a relaxed atmosphere to learn about Chinese instruments and culture,” he said.

Frechette said that this club is for those who have a common interest to meet and learn.

“Don’t be afraid to come, see and ask.” Lawrence said.

The club is open to anyone who has a desire to learn and experience the Chinese culture. It meets every Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 100 in the Chinese Learning Center of Helm Library.