Yuan Sha: Make Guzheng a National Instrument


Walking into Yuan Sha’s room, you face two guzhengs.  She just finished practicing
with her sister.  The 27-year-old guzheng performer Yuan Sha has a classical style
beauty.  During the whole interview, she had her guzheng picks on.  This, she
explains that she arrives Changchun late, therefore, need to practice more.

The Culture Department of Jilin Province, the Guzheng College of Beijing Xinghua
University, and Guanming Art School together host this “Yuan Sha Guzheng Solo
Concert” which starts at 19:00 tonight at the Province Culture Center.  Yuan Sha
hopes the “Butterfly Lover”, the song she works together with famous composer He
Zhanha, will lead guzheng into a new direction.

Tough Learning Experience

Yuan Sha first met guzheng when she was six years old.  “It was a very tough
experience; I had to take 14 hours of bus from my hometown Tiantai, Chejiang to take
lesson with my guzheng teacher in Shanghai every week.  Then, I had to take the bus
back home at night.  I started living with my relatives in Shanghai when I was seven,
and took guzheng lesson every week.”  Yuan Sha didn’t disappoint her parents.  
When she was nine, she received the first place on the entrance exams to both
Central Music Conservatory and Shanghai Conservatory of Music.  She tossed the
coin and chose the Central Music Conservatory.

Guzheng doesn’t Have Enough International Influence

Learning Guzheng let Yuan Sha has the chance to see the international music field.  
When the reporter asked her to give Guzheng a placement on the international music
stage, she responded:  “It’s not on the main stream.  I think it relates to the country’s
economy and politics.  For example, our Guzheng music actually surpasses the
Japanese Koto, but the Koto has established its standing in the international field.  
But most people’s knowledge on Guzheng only limited to curiosity, take this
instrument as something new.”  Yuan Sha also showed her optimism:  “I’m working
on making the Guzheng a national instrument.  After I reached this goal, it won’t be
too far away for Guzheng to establish its standing in the international field.”   

Make the Guzheng Teaching Lively

Already well famed and gained, Yuan Sha has bigger dream:  “The current guzheng
teaching is too inflexible; I’m going to make it lively.  For example, designing children’s
songs for the kids to attract their interest; rearranging popular songs in to easy notes
targeting adults who only learn the instrument as a habit.  Receiving international
success at this young age, Yuan Sha believes it has to do with the talent:  “Musicians
have to have at least 50% talent, other than that, there are effort and determination.  

It Takes only an Afternoon to Learn a Guzheng Song

The elegant music keeps people in a distance, but Yuan Sha believes Guzheng as
the only exception: “When my Dad took me to the instrument store, I decided to learn
guzheng immediately when I heard its sound.  That’s the fascination of Guzheng.”  
While saying this, she took the reporter’s hand and glided through the strings:  
“Guzheng is a very easy instrument to start learning with; I can make you learn a
song in just one afternoon.  Can you believe that?”  She directed the reporter’s fingers
on the strings and the melody of “Chang Hai Yi Sheng Xiao” magically came out.  
Yuan laughed:  “Isn’t it easy?  You can learn it in a very short time.  So don’t think it’s
a distant instrument; Guzheng is an instrument with a lot of fun.”