Yian Deng

Waiting backstage, I was nervous about my performance with my GuQin in the United States. However, the neurons in my brain also made me excited because I was going to be showing a sound from ancient Chinese. The GuQin is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family with a history of more than 3000 years. I was truly grateful to have this opportunity to show my passion for Chinese culture through traditional music.

I fell in love with GuQin and its stories when I was little. I have been lucky enough to learn how to play it from Sir Pui Yuen Lui, who is very well known in the GuQin community. GuQin is also the reason I am passionate about Chinese history. I remember my grandfather used to tell many stories of different dynasties in Chinese history, from their golden time to their failure, during my childhood. I especially enjoyed the story about the Ming and Qing dynasties, including their extraordinary achievement, The Forbidden City. It is the largest imperial palace built in Chinese history. I truly appreciated the architecture and the Chinese classical gardens, which are exquisite beyond compare, filled with poetic beauty and with a strong literary atmosphere. Standing in there with my eyes closed, their stories could vividly play in my head. Although it has been 400 years since their time, I like to see the culture and history to be remembered and shared.


Like other international students, I experienced homesickness when I started studying abroad about two years ago. I didn’t have friends so I felt alone. Initially, I tried to put myself together by talking to the therapist. I also spent much time on meditation. However, what helped me through that most difficult time was GuQin and Chinese folk music. I gradually understand GuQin was more than an instrument for entertainment, it was often my best friend. I learned how to use GuQin to express my emotions, and I was able to gain internal peace and balance through daily practice. I have many friends now who have made me feel welcome at my school here in San Pedro and I still enjoy sharing our culture within the school and community. I am thankful for my teachers and classmates here, all for all the help from this school that has helped me improved in music and I’m so many other ways.