Student plays ancient chinese instrument

September 22, 2010 — by Jennifer Jin

The sound of the yangqin, an instrument known as the Chinese piano, rings through junior Kristal Kung’s ears as she lifts the mallet again.

Kung has played the yangqin since fourth grade. The yangqin is a trapezoid-shaped instrument made of wood with around 144 metal strings. It is played using two mallets made of bamboo with rubber on the ends to hit the strings.

“I started because one of my friend’s mom introduced us to this Chinese instrument teacher and we all thought it was nice and joined,” said Kung.

As of now, her two favorite pieces are “The Arkansas Traveler” and “The Train is Coming.” Kung has performed individually at her church and the Maryknoll retirement place.

“I like the sound of the yangqin and how even though it’s really easy to learn, there are still a lot of challenges and advanced techniques,” said Kung. “It’s really exciting when I play a hard piece.”

Her friends have also expressed interest in the yangqin.

“For [my friends] who have seen it, they have said that it’s a really cool and an interesting instrument,” said Kung.

The yangqin has also helped Kung with her other musical talents.

“[The yangqin] has helped me learn to read music better and improve my rhythm,” said Kung, who is also plays the piano and is a part of the school’s choir.

Using her musical adeptness for the yangqin, Kang is a part of a group called the Chymes, which consists of a yangqin, two erhus (Chinese violin), two yueqins (Chinese moon guitar) and a dizi (Chinese flute). The Chymes has performed at Saratoga High, Redwood Middle, the Saratoga Library, downtown Saratoga during the Lantern Festival and at a retirement home almost every year.

“I like the yangqin because it is a really unique instrument,” said Kung. “I hope more people learn how to play it.”

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