School choir brings more possibilities for future to middle school students in SW China’s Qamdo

A group photo of Padma Qogco (second from right) and students in the school choir of Yanjing Middle School. (File photo)

At the beginning of the new semester, students in Yanjing Middle School of Yanjing Naxi ethnic township in Markham county, Qamdo, southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, returned to their music room and started to learn brand new tunes.


Over the past five years, Padma Qogco, a music teacher in the Yanjing Middle School, has taught students chorus skills, adapted songs for them, and started a school choir.


“Dancing notes. Flying songs.” The big characters painted by students on the corridor wall outside their music room show how music has added a bright new color to their life.


While providing guidance and help for her students in the past five years, Padma Qogco has also enjoyed a rewarding journey herself.


When she first came to the Yanjing Middle School five years ago, Padma Qogco found that though they had attended music classes, music was almost strange to students in the school.


“They used to think that singing is basically shouting. And those who shout the loudest sing the best,” recalled Padma Qogco, adding that many children were in fact interested in singing, but had never got the opportunity to learn more about it.


They were just like herself when she was young, thought Padma Qogco, who has been fond of music since she was little.


Padma Qogco is a native of Yanjing Naxi ethnic township. She went to an art school in Qamdo to learn singing and dancing at the age of nine, and was later admitted to the art school of Tibet University.


After graduation from Tibet University, Padma Qogco returned to the middle school in her hometown and became a music teacher. She wants to pass on the passion for music to the students she loves and help these children in the mountainous area develop a greater interest in arts and better enjoy their lives.


In the eyes of Padma Qogco, a choir is an interest community where everyone who loves singing meets each other. The idea made Padma Qogco form a choir from scratch for the Yanjing Middle School.


The school choir has no fixed list of members. Any student who is interested in singing can join it. Most of the exercises for the choir are scheduled for weekends or the time after school. Students can decide on their own whether to take part in the exercises or not. Padma Qogco always shows full respect for their choices.


As time goes by, the school choir becomes another “home” of students from different grades and ethnic groups.


Most of the songs the choir practices are decided by the choir members through votes, through which they are given the opportunity to get a clearer understanding of their tastes in music.


“What I should do is to guide them to better development of their own strengths,” said Padma Qogco, who seldom intervenes in students’ choosing of songs directly.


Music has led students in Yanjing Middle School to a broader and more wonderful world.


The songs students in the school choir usually sing are written on two blackboards on the wall of the school’s music room. They include folk songs and various popular songs.


Padma Qogco often adapts existing songs together with students for the school choir. They make small adjustments to popular songs, adapt traditional folk songs, and sometimes design dances for their chorus.


Every little good change brought by music to students in the choir makes Padma Qogco happy.


Nyima Lhamo, a member of the school choir, is able to give smooth performances naturally on the stage of the singing contest held by the Yanjing Middle School. The girl has won the championship in the contest for many times and been a star contestant in the event. Singing has made the girl who was once shy become more confident.


There was a time when some parents and students didn’t understand what the choir was established for. In the face of doubts, Padma Qogco and students in the choir have forged ahead and gradually seen gratifying changes.


Some children who used to be bashful and introvert have gained confidence in themselves while learning singing in the choir. As they walk in their school, they can now keep their chin up and chest out.


Padma Qogco believes these changes can lead to more great changes in their lives.


“Joining the school choir has made me confident and motivated. Everyone who has dreams is admirable and needs to stick to their dreams to the end. I believe I will find my own path,” said Tenzin Tamdrin, a member of the choir. Tenzin Tamdrin’s academic records are not great, but singing showed her the possibility of another road in life.


When asked about their wishes for the future, students in the school choir said they want to be music teachers, singers and see a bigger world.


“Grades are not the only criterion for students. Arts can enrich the hearts of children and open a new door for them,” Padma Qogco noted.


“Singing has made students more active and shown them more possibilities for life in the future,” said Galo, headmaster of the Yanjing Middle School, who disclosed that some students in the choir have been admitted to music schools and art troupes in the recent five years.

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