The art of the bamboo flute

Walking on to the stage, she views an audience staring back at her. Excited but nervous, she holds her bamboo flute up to the microphone and begins to play her solo. Junior Erica Tan has performed with the bamboo flute for seven years.

Tan originally wanted to play the standard “American” flute, and told her mother that she wanted to give it a try. However, her mother took her to the Pomona String and Bamboo Music Orchestra, an orchestra that taught the bamboo flute rather than the flute Tan was familiar with. Though Tan did not want to play the bamboo flute, her mother encouraged and convinced her to give it a try. After playing the flute for one year, Tan was fascinated by its sound and decided to stick with it.

“What I like most about the bamboo flute is the high pitched sound that it makes,” Tan said. “The flute sound is vibrant and sounds cheerful, like you’re in a festival.”

Tan performs for her orchestra four to five times a year. These performances include events such as “We are Family,” in which someone in the orchestra performs a duet or a trio with a sibling or friend, and the “Mid-Autumn Festival,” a casual 20-minute concert.

“These performances are fun because you get to be with your orchestra friends, and you also get to perform in front of people to show your passion for music,” Tan said. “After I perform everything correctly, I feel like I accomplished something, and I have a feeling of success.”

In addition to the bamboo flute, Tan started to play the guzheng, a chinese instrument with 21 strings, in seventh grade and has played it ever since. While Tan played the bamboo flute in the orchestra, the sound of the guzheng intrigued her, so Tan decided to expand her musical skill by learning the guzheng.

“My favorite part of the guzheng is the sound it makes. It’s a very soothing lullaby sound, like someone’s singing to you when you go to sleep,” said Tan. “I play the instrument for fun because it helps with stress relief while killing time.”

Tan continues to play both the bamboo flute and the guzheng. Though Tan primarily focuses on practicing the bamboo flute for future performances, she still plays the guzheng as a casual hobby.

“It might seem hard [to learn an instrument] at first because it’s a hard process to learn the notes and everything,” Tan said. “But once you start practicing and getting more into it while enjoying it, you can learn it and one day master it.”

By Andrew Kim, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Erica Tan