Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Visit a ukulele shop in Beijing, China

03 2011

If you are a faithful reader of this blog, you might have been wondering why I haven’t posted in a while.  Be reassured, I haven’t dropped the ukulele nor decided to stop blogging. The reason for my silence has been a one-week business trip to Beijing, China.

Thanks to my friend Al from Uke Hunt, I have been able to add a ukulele aspect to my trip and to meet really lovely ukulele players from the Philippines and from China.

After a 10-hour flight during which I couldn’t sleep a wink, I arrived in Beijing on Saturday morning at 7:00 am local time, my Fluke carefully packed in my rucksack, ready to start the day despite the lack of sleep.

At 2:00 pm I met Connie, a ukulele player from the Philippines living an hour and a half away from Beijing and who had the extreme kindness to travel the distance to Beijing, meet me and introduce me to a ukulele shop owner in the North West of Beijing.

Let me invite you to a virtual visit of this ukulele shop in Beijing and to meet the lovely people I have met there. The shop is called The Modern Musical Instrument Company and is owned by Liang Xin Ming. Liang Xin Ming, who also teaches how to play ukulele, was not there when I visited but I met his wife Zong.

In case you ever travel to Beijing and wish to visit this ukulele shop, here is their card. If you don’t speak Chinese, you can use the card to give instructions to a taxi driver.

The music shop is divided in two halves, one part dedicated to Chinese instruments and the other half to the ukulele (and to a few guitars).

There is nothing like being made so welcome by the nicest ukulele player around, like the sight of many ukes and the pleasure of holding your own to bring a smile on one’s face…

A closer look at the ukuleles on display. Notice the concert uke with the Chinese mask painting.

Time to look inside the shop…

Apart from a couple of Kala and Ohana ukes, most of the ukulele brands on display were unfamiliar to me. Most of the ukes were mounted with GHS strings (not my favourite strings) and a few with Aquilas.

And now meet Zong (left), the lovely wife of the shop owner who made us feel at home in the shop and played along with us, and Connie (right), to whom I will never be thankful enough for her kindness and for that memorable ukulele afternoon in Beijing.

The Ukulele & Languages motto ‘Different countries, different cultures, one common language… the ukulele’ has never been better illustrated than that afternoon as I didn’t speak Chinese and Zong didn’t speak English

Zong showed us a few videos of the activities of the Beijing Ukulele Club so I could see her husband perform with other Chinese ukulele players, some of them very young (notice the little kid on the screen).

More ukulele fun followed as we tried to find common songs in our respective songbooks. The atmosphere of the shop became even more international when two more of Connie‘s friends, Filipino-Chinese Shasha and Craig from England joined us. Craig played the guitar along to my and Connie‘s ukulele strumming.

After this memorable ukulele session, we went out to eat together.

This afternoon has been so brilliant it’s been the highlight of my trip to China. I am so very grateful to Al for putting me in contact with Connie and to Connie for her kindness, her welcome and for organising the afternoon so I could make the most out of it. I definitely hope we will meet again one day.

Thanks a million to Zong who let us try all the ukuleles and play all afternoon in her shop.

Once more the ukulele has proven its magic!

10 Comments »

  1. Bossarocker on the 3rd of April 2011 @ 16:22

    Welcome home, Armelle! Glad to see you putting boring work time to good use. Thanks for sharing – looks like a fantastic experience.

  2. Flamby1er on the 3rd of April 2011 @ 16:45

    Great article Armelle! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Al on the 3rd of April 2011 @ 22:15

    Welcome back to your own site and freedom from the Great Firewall of China!

    I’m really glad I could hook you guys up. Looks like a fun time. I may have to go to Beijing and buy that mask ukulele.

  4. Craig on the 4th of April 2011 @ 14:19

    Hiya Armelle, it was good to meet you. hope to see you again sometime in Beijing!

  5. Armelle Europe on the 4th of April 2011 @ 20:23

    Bossarocker: Thanks Lou. It sure was a fantastic experience. It was worth travelling the 5000 miles.

    Flamby1er: Glad you enjoyed Alex. Hope you’ll get to visit China one day too.

    Al: Thanks Al. With your comment my site definitely doesn’t stand a chance to be accessible in China ;)
    Thanks for making this fantastic day possible.

    Craig: Thanks for dropping a line. It was really great meeting you and Shasha. I hope you will carry on with the guitar now or be converted to the uke!

  6. jm gaviola on the 6th of April 2011 @ 10:51

    that’s my mom! Connie Gaviola! She’s become really good at ukulele!

  7. Armelle Europe on the 6th of April 2011 @ 12:35

    jm gaviola: You can be really proud of your mum, she is very kind and it was really great to play the ukulele with her!

  8. kiyoshi hirakawa on the 8th of September 2011 @ 16:04

    I am a Ukulele soloist. Iam teaching and playing various places such as Hawaii, New York Carnegie Hall. interested in you Ukulele and want meet ukulele players in your country.
    Give me your reply by email
    K. Hirakawa

  9. Jake on the 11th of January 2012 @ 00:04

    Hi Armelle, I’m going to Beijing this weekend. Unfortunately I might not be able to take my uke with me, so thanks for this post! I don’t suppose you know of any permanent uke groups in Beijing?
    Jake

  10. Armelle Europe on the 11th of January 2012 @ 17:06

    Jake: I am glad you enjoyed the post. You should definitely visit the shop I mentioned in my post. The shop owners are part of a permanent ukulele group.
    Enjoy your trip and I hope you will be able to take your uke along and meet ukulele players out there.

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