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Smart, young rockers are electrifying

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

10:43, August 10, 2012

Camp participants visit a violin factory in Pinggu. (China Daily/Feng Yongbin)

Yang Liuqing plays the electronic keyboard like a professional, even though he is only 10.

"I wanted to wear my favorite Michael Jackson shirt but we have to wear these T-shirts today. I will wear it for our next show," says Yang, who is one of the members of Shanghai-based band, Troublemakers.

The round-faced boy who loves to smile, and his five other band members plays grunge, a sub-genre of alternative rock music. Li Qijun, 10, plays the electronic drums; Wang Yiqi, 8, bass; Lu Pengxiang, 8, electronic piano; and Wu Sijian, 9, and Zhang Yanjia, 7, electronic guitars.

The band recently performed at the opening of a summer camp in Pinggu district, on the outskirts of Beijing. They are among more than 300 children and young adults, aged between 3 and 18, from all over China, who gathered for a weeklong camp, titled Chinese Kids Rock with Electronic Musical Instruments.

The organizers - the local government of Pinggu district and Roland Corporation, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments - want campers to feel comfortable being loud and expressing themselves on stage like adult rockers.

"Most parents in China get their children to learn at least one musical instrument, such as violin and piano. They only set their eyes on classical music," says Sun Qianxiao from Roland Corporation, the camp's founder and co-director. "We want parents and children to know that electronic musical instruments are electrifying."

At the camp, participants attend master classes conducted by international musicians, such as jazz-fusion guitarist Robert Marcello from Sweden and Masaking, percussionist from Japan.

Among the campers, 150 children play electronic drums, 80 children play keyboards and more than 20 play electronic accordion. The others play classical musical instruments. At the end of the camp on Aug 8, they performed a concert.

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