School band pro­vides ful­fil­ment and hope for the vi­sion im­paired

Shanghai Daily - - NATION - (Xin­hua)

WITH sun­glasses on and drum­sticks in his hand, Li Ming, 16, burst into ac­tion, bob­bing his head to the rock­ing beat.

On stage, he is ac­com­pa­nied by five other band mem­bers. They all wear sun­glasses — not just to ap­pear cool — they are a team of stu­dents and teach­ers with vis­ual im­pair­ments in the city of Wuhu, eastern China’s An­hui Prov­ince.

The band, com­prised of 18 stu­dents and teach­ers rang­ing in age from 9 to 34 in the Wuhu School for the Blind, is named Dark Eyes, af­ter a well-known verse from a Chi­nese poem.

“I was given dark eyes by night, yet I use them to search for light,” said Chu Haolan, the elec­tric gui­tarist and founder of the band. “Our name is taken from this verse we all love.”

Ex­cept for lead singer Zhou Zhen­zhong, all of the band mem­bers have vary­ing lev­els of vis­ual im­pair­ment, and most are stu­dents.

Founded in 2016, the band has been in­vited to per­form at a lo­cal Spring Fes­ti­val Gala to be aired live on tele­vi­sion in two months.

“Blind peo­ple, just like ev­ery­one else, can play and en­joy mu­sic,” said Chu, who is pro­fi­cient in more than 10 in­stru­ments and teaches at the school.

Af­ter at­tend­ing a rock con­cert in 2015, Chu came up with the idea to set up a band at his school. He re­cruited mem­bers, bought in­stru­ments and teaches mu­sic to the stu­dents.

Prac­tic­ing mu­sic re­quires more ef­fort for the vis­ually im­paired. Chu breaks the mu­sic scores into dif­fer­ent parts for dif­fer­ent in­stru­ment and teaches each part to his team mem­bers, who mem­o­rize the notes for their re­spec­tive in­stru­ment.

Orches­trat­ing a piece of mu­sic can take the band at least two months and hun­dreds of re­hearsals. So far, the band knows 10 songs.

“Noth­ing can stop our yearn­ing for mu­sic, and it’s mu­sic that has helped us find our­selves,” said 28-year-old Zhu Hong­wei, a gui­tarist in the band.

Some band mem­bers were born with vis­ual im­pair­ments, but Zhu be­came blind due to op­tic at­ro­phy af­ter grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity. He later chose to study in the school.

Zhu suf­fered from de­pres­sion for a long time, and his de­meanor was dif­fer­ent from the way he looks now, ac­cord­ing to his band­mates.

Lay­ing foun­da­tion for life

Now Zhu finds joy in mu­sic. Apart from play­ing the gui­tar, he also sings.

“Some­times I find an empty class­room to record my songs and up­load them on­line, even if I don’t get many high rat­ings,” Zhu said with a smile.

Af­ter each re­hearsal, Li, the drum­mer, care­fully puts the drum­sticks in his bag and car­ries them around.

“I feel re­lieved only if the drum­sticks are in a safe place that I know,” Li said, “Be­cause, like bas­ket­ball, mu­sic is some­thing I love and I’ll never give it up.”

The band has in­spired many stu­dents in the school and re­ceived sup­port from lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

“I can imag­ine how cool they look,” said Chen Qiongqiong, a 16-year-old blind stu­dent in the school. “I am also learn­ing gui­tar; hope­fully I can join the band one day.”

The lo­cal fed­er­a­tion for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties pro­vides all the mu­si­cal in­stru­ments for the band and of­fers many mu­sic cour­ses in the school.

“We hope blind stu­dents can lay a foun­da­tion for life­long well-be­ing here,” said Xi Wei­jing, head of the school, “We hope the power of mu­sic can ac­com­pany them through­out the jour­ney of life.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.