Teaching Piano in China: Building Transcultural and Transhistorical Bridges through Music Education

Hao Huang, Tatiana Thibodeaux


Recently, music teachers across the globe have had cause to celebrate the accomplishments of many Asian and Asian-American students, who are often immigrants or children of recent immigrants. American and indeed international music undergraduate and graduate programs currently depend on Asian students to fulfill enrollment projections. Many music schools have sent administrators on recruitment trips to China or are holding auditions there. East and West have become musically intertwined through the significant participation of Asian or “Oriental” people in Western classical music, despite deeply dissimilar treatments of harmony and rhythm in traditional Asian music. It has been noted by past scholars that “students from different cultural backgrounds may approach the entire musical experience from divergent points of view. Such a difference, if it does exist, would necessitate a much more detailed consideration of not only choices in music teaching materials, but also activities, strategies, and goals for music learning.” (Morrison, Yeh 1999) We argue that teachers must become aware of the cultural differences in learning music, especially in approaching Western classical music: language, emotional responses, etc. in order to be effective with different constituencies. Drs. Hao Huang and Tatiana Thibodeaux have been visiting faculty at the College of Arts in Xiamen University over the past several summers 2012-15, and we would like to share some experiences and insights with our teaching colleagues.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/irhe.v1n2p25


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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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