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Music heals: rural rock band inspires hope in remote Chinese village

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China

Music heals: rural rock band inspires hope in remote Chinese village

2024-05-24 02:38 Last Updated At:09:38

A rural rock bank consisting of eight primary students from a remote school in Hengyang County of central China's Hunan Province is gaining local recognition with their passion for music thanks to the endeavor of the principal and a volunteer teacher.

The band formed more than half a year ago is now a local celebrity, often invited to perform outside school. According to Ning Dan, the principal of the Miaoxi Primary School, most of the students in the band are left-behind children who lacked confidence and struggled with shyness before discovering their love for music.

In the Miaoxi Primary School that is tucked away in mountains, many children live with their grandparents as their parents are working far from home. Among the 32 students in the school, about 28 are left-behind children with all kinds of problems.

In addition to hot-tempered children, many students struggle with introversion and lack self-confidence, often finding it challenging to speak up or even shedding tears when addressing a large audience.

Ning had an idea to unlock the inner worlds of these children through music. But there are only seven teachers in the school and none of them were qualified to teach music.

Two years ago, Ning sought out volunteers with artistic talent, aiming to instill confidence in the children through the radiance of art. So Wen Jin, a music enthusiast running a musical instrument store in Hengyang City, came here as a volunteer.

Since 2022, Wen has been driving over 60 kilometers from downtown Hengyang to the school with his electronic keyboard and guitar, dedicating one day each week to provide free music lessons to the children and introduce them to the world of music.

"When they see these instruments, they become so happy, as if they've found a treasure. They cherish them and worry about damaging them. So I kept reassuring them, saying, 'Don't worry, feel free to use these instruments. If they break, you won't be held responsible,'" said Wen.

"I adore music because whenever I listen to it, my mind becomes a blank canvas, and all I hear is the music itself," said Yan Rui, a band member who is in grade five.

Wen has been busy taking care of a musical instrument store in downtown Hengyang, but before students' performances, he even visits the school twice a week to ensure they have adequate practice.

Although this commitment has affected his business in a way, Wen remains tireless in his pursuit of nurturing young talent.

"It brings me immense joy and comfort. Each visit feels like a healing session, and I'm healed every time I'm with them. There's no mental burden or pressure. My only concern is whether I'm true to my conscience, and whether the students and I are happy," said Wen.

As joyful melodies emanating from the music classroom, the band was preparing tirelessly for their upcoming performances. Wen let the band go to the playground during break time, simulating an outdoor concert venue in the radiant sunshine of May, so the members could acclimate to the environment and alleviate stage fright.

The principal said that he and the teachers share a greater dream of improving rural education, so that parents can be reassured of their children's long-term growth.

"With the Children's Day approaching, Mr Wen has been rehearsing with us these days. This is an extraordinary opportunity, so each one of us must cherish it. Even at home, we should practice and enrich our life through music," said Ning.

Over two months after the band was formed, kind-hearted people donated more musical instruments to the band, igniting even greater enthusiasm among the students. Meanwhile, motivated by music, the students have also become more active and made much progress in their academic performance.

"Before joining the band, I was always feeling down. But after joining it and practicing with my classmates, I became very happy. In the future, I want to become a music teacher like Mr Wen," said Wu Jiaxin, another band member who is in grade five.

On the day of the performance, the rock band took the stage, confidently showcasing their well-rehearsed program to villagers and students from other schools. Their splendid performance drew cheers and applause. The students' grandparents took out phones to capture videos to share this special happiness with the performers' parents who are working away from home.

"I hope music can bring them lifelong happiness, allowing them to express and release their emotions. When they hear music in the future, they can experience a sense of empathy, recalling a certain period of their life. This will give them confidence and courage to face future challenges and setbacks in their life. As long as circumstances permit and the school continues to exist, I will continue to do this," said Wen.

Music heals: rural rock band inspires hope in remote Chinese village

Music heals: rural rock band inspires hope in remote Chinese village

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