I Want to be a Rock Star

Taiwan Music Legends at Vancouver Taiwanfest, August 2008. Photo Courtesy of Mack Tong

“Hey kids, we’re going to concert of traditional Taiwanese music played on ancient instruments from the Middle Kingdom!”

This is where you insert the requisite groaning, screaming, begging and bargaining, right?

Nope, not in my house. Maybe a little bit — from my husband — who was expecting a staid performance by an choir of retirees. My sons, on the other hand, gladly hopped in the car and went along to a concert called Taiwan Music Legends hosted by the Taiwanese American Center of Northern California.


We ended up sitting in the balcony of a large church in north San Jose, and when the lights were dimmed and a dozen or so twenty-something musicians came bouncing on the stage with amped-up lutes, mandolins and sitars, my kids were mesmerized. I tried to ask my first-grader what he thought, but he was staring slack-jawed at the performance and completely ignored me. The whole thing was very catchy, with Chinese and Aboriginal folk tunes re-interpreted with a dose of pop music, colored lights, and shaggy haircuts.

By the time they got around to the Aboriginal song Sa Ka Ma Lu (you know that “Hey Ya” ditty at the beginning of Enigma’s Return to Innocence? That’s the tune. Enigma sampled it from some members of the Ami mountain tribe), and the old people were clapping their hands, my six-year old was air drumming, tapping his feet and beating on the back of the chair in front of him.

So obviously, music is a big thing for my kids. Pop music. Guitars, drums, lasers and all. How do I encourage this? Sign them up for drum lessons, as my six-year old has been asking for?

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