School of Chinese Studies
Guqin for Adults古琴
The guqin, regarded by Chinese as the most elegant of all their musical instruments, produces delicate music from seven strings. With a 3,000 year history, the guqin has deep roots in Chinese culture, long being associated with Confucius, self-cultivation, scholarship, philosophy, and poetry. Favored by the elite as an elegant pastime, the qin was also played as a means to attain calm, nurture virtue, and promote longevity. The subtle tones of the qin are realized by sophisticated and elegant methods of fingering. While playing, interaction of the two hands creates a harmonious choreography, a visual pleasure like a ballet of the fingers.
Recently the qin has attained renewed popularity because of its charismatic playing at the opening of the Beijing Olympics and recognition by the United Nations as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. It is featured in the renowned director Zhang Yimou’s film Shadow, as well as the theme music of several popular TV series. In addition to fingering technique and reading notation, the aesthetic and cultural aspects of the guqin will be taught. No musical experience is needed. Instruments are provided for in-class instruction.
Winter 2020 Schedule
Sundays, January 12 – March 8
(No Class January 26)
8 Sessions (16 hours)
Guqin Beginner: 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Guqin Intermediate: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Non-Refundable Registration Fee: $30
Maximum Number of Students: 6
This course is designed for adults who have not studied the qin before. The classes will explain qin tablature (notation), basic fingerings and the three tone colors: open strings, pressed tones, and harmonics. Following introduction of these fundamentals, students will practice some simple exercises, then learn three short pieces: Laughter above the Turquoise Sea, Immortals’ Chant, and Autumn Wind. Aesthetics of the qin and its cultural aspects will be presented.
This course will teach more complex fingerings, correct hand postures, and how to read advanced tablatures. Students will learn two to three pieces: Drinking Spree, Returning Home and Three Variations of the Yang Pass. Aesthetics of the qin and its cultural aspects will be presented. Students who have learned the qin before at other venues are welcome to join this class.
The “Beginner Guqin” class experience from recent students:
About the Instructor, Mingmei Yip
Mingmei Yip, PhD in musicology from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) on a full scholarship from the French Government. A master performer on the Qin, she has given lectures and performances at venues such as Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic, Columbia University, Oxford University, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Beijing University, the University of Paris, Amsterdam University, Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the China Institute in New York. Mingmei has served as consultant for Beijing’s Chinese Qin Association 北京中国古琴会, director for Chinese Kun Opera and Guqin Research Association 中国古琴昆剧研究会理事, artistic consultant for New York Cultural Art Association, as well as on the academic board of the Chengdu International Qin Conference.
Also a writer, Mingmei has published fourteen books, with two on the qin. Her latest being her 7th novel The Witch’s Market (Kensington Books) which received a glowing review from the New York Times. She wrote columns for seven major newspapers and has appeared on over 50 TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and the United States.
Mingmei is also accomplished as a painter and calligrapher. A one-person show of her paintings of Guan Yin (the Chinese Goddess of Compassion) and calligraphy was held at the New York Open Center Gallery in SoHo in 2002. Mingmei was lecturer and senior lecturer (associate professor) of music at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Baptist University respectively, and in 2005, an International Institute of Asian Studies fellow in Holland researching on the qin. She has taught qin playing and calligraphy at two major Hong Kong Universities.
Mingmei Yip explains why she loves playing and teaching the guqin: