The Chinese People: Music, Instruments, Folklore


63 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88865-017-5





Edited by Sandra Davies and Sandra Jang
Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is Financial and Budget Manager at the University of British
Columbia Library.


This booklet and its accompanying slides and sound cassette comprise a teaching resource package whose purpose is “to help teachers integrate the arts of the Chinese culture in the grade six Social Studies unit.” The 31 slides, photographs, and recorded songs and instrumental music all come from the Canadian-Chinese community in Vancouver, B.C. This is Chinese culture with a Canadian accent, vital and appealing despite its remote and exotic origins. But the origins are by no means neglected. The derivation of the pentatonic scale, traditional Chinese music notation, the instruments, and the role of music in Chinese society are all discussed succinctly and with numerous illustrations. But the emphasis is on making the culture live for the children through participative activities. The cassette includes a short piece of music performed on the traditional instruments, for which the booklet provides a score and suggestions to aid listening and appreciation of the sound and structure of the music. Three easy folksongs, two with phonetic Chinese words as well as English, encourage the children to make their own Chinese music. Classroom instruments which approximate the sounds of the traditional instruments are suggested for ensemble accompaniment of the songs, and the booklet is designed conveniently to lie open on the conductor’s music stand. There are also two simple dances to perform, set to music on the cassette. In addition to the musical activities, the booklet provides a taste of Chinese folklore and poetry, with related art activities such as shadow plays, paper-cutting, fan-and kite-making. Sketches of the traditional motifs of Chinese art illustrate many of the pages. A “Resource Materials” list of books, sound and videorecordings, films, filmstrips, and slide sets completes the package, and opens the door to a wealth of additional teaching aids for this colourful unit of the curriculum.


“The Chinese People: Music, Instruments, Folklore,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,