Music of My People - English As A Second Language

May 22, 2014

Watch and listen to traditional music from the homes of some of Interlochen's International students.

Students from all over the world flock to Interlochen Arts Academy to study the arts in the northern Michigan woods.  Some of them are old hands at music or their chosen field, but new to the English language.

That's where Marvine Stamatakis comes in.  Marvine is the instructor of English as a Second Language at Interlochen, and uses all sorts of creative resources to help students feel comfortable speaking naturally in English.

I wondered about the musical traditions of her students, and asked them: What is the music from your home country that speaks to you the most? What is the music your parents and grandparents played for you to teach you about your heritage?  I loved their responses, and hope you will too.  I've put together a "Watchlist" of YouTube videos recommended by the students.  Much of the music is from China, with tracks from Japan and Macedonia as well. 

  • Peifeng, a Sophomore Piano Major from China, recommends  traditional 18th Century Chinese classical pieces:

Xi Yang Ziao Ghu (Music at Sunset)


Flute and Drum Sunset

  • Jihano, a Senior Voice Major from Shen Zhen China, recommends music by Xian Xinghai:

Yellow River Piano Concerto

  • Tony, Freshman Guitar Major from China, recommends music played on the erhu, a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, more specifically a, "spike fiddle," which may also be called a "southern fiddle," and sometimes known in the Western world as the, "Chinese violin," or a, "Chinese two-stringed fiddle."

The Moon Reflected in Er-qua

  • Yingpeng, Sophomore Piano Major from Xinjiang, China, recommends a song from her region:

Uighur song from Xinjiang, Northwest China

  • Aiting, Sophomore Visual Arts Major from Beijing, China recommends another classical piece from Xian Xinghai:

Yellow River Cantata, 1939

  • Huimiao, Sophomore Piano Major from China, recommends a piece from Inner Mongolia, for the traditional Naadam Festival (in which games of Mongolian wrestling, archery and horse racing are held countrywide in the summer).

Horse Race, 1959, for piano and erhu

  • Ryoei, Sophomore Oboe Major from Japan, recommends  a Japanese song written in the Meiji period (1868~1912). Japanese pianist and composer Rentarō Taki (1879~1903) composed the music as a music lesson song without instrumental accompaniment in 1901. The song was included in the songbook for Junior High School students. The music of the song was inspired by the ruins of Oka Castle whereas the lyrics, written by Bansui Doi,were inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.

The Moon Over a Ruined Castle, piano and voice

and another by Rentaro Taki -

Grudge (note: the translation of "Regret" is incorrectly used at the beginning of the video - Urami means, "resentment," or, "grudge.")

  • Martin, Clarinet Major from Macedonia, recommends a song sung by Vaska Ilieva.  Martin describes the song's meaning: "The woman’s daughter says she is glad and happy because she wants to open a shop in the town and her mother is helping her.  She wants to sit by the door to watch the young girls go by. It was probably one of the first shops in Struga, a town in Macedonia. This is a popular Macedonian folk song."

Sto mi e milo em drago mamo

  • Dylan, Freshman Visual Arts Major from China, recommends a piece played on the Ghu Zeng, the Zhe Jiang style of zither.

Gao shan liu shui

Hope you enjoy the "Watchlist" from the 2013-2014 ESL Class!  You can also listen to many of the students' chosen tracks on Spotify, below.