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A composed performance

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-05 07:58

11-year-old Guo Zihao, another participant, performs a hip-hop song he wrote.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"Young children are creative and musical by nature. For example, when a child sits there and plays with their toys, it is natural for them to hum while playing. That is songwriting," says Chen, who learned to play the piano as a child and mostly writes music for movies and TV dramas now.

"Though we just had three days, they showed a great aptitude for music, which was beyond my expectation," says Chen. "They immersed themselves in the art of songwriting and discovered melody, rhythm, harmony and lyrical techniques."

He taught the students about the fundamentals of songwriting, the most popular song structures and the essential components to effectively build a song. He also showcased tips about constructing a compelling melody and how to ultimately keep the listener invested in the song.

Each of the participants was given a songwriting assignment and they went back home to write songs on their own musical instruments. They were also encouraged to collaborate.

Chen also invited his musician friends, guitarist Guo Zhongmin, drummer Sun Rongkun, pianist Guo Xiaotian and bassist Zhang Guixin, to offer the children the experience of collaborating with a live band.

Chen adds that for students majoring in composition, it usually takes two semesters to master skills and theory about songwriting. "They completed an impossible mission," he adds.

He says it takes courage to sing original songs onstage.

"Songwriting is about taking any idea and turning it into art. It can just be a simple idea, a passing thought, a story, or a concept," Chen says.

He has taught music theory at primary and middle schools, as well as giving music workshops for children.

"I have lots of experience working with students, but it was the first time that I taught them to write songs. They have inspired me, for sure," he says.

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