This past month, I had the opportunity to go to China for the second time. I will post more about my original trip, and other aspects about the most recent one. In this post though, I would like to introduce you to two friends I made by pure chance, in my wife’s hometown.

October 2014, after having traveled around the south of China, I was in the northern town of Jinan, known for its springs, and mountains. I had a week to kill, which enabled me to spend my days wandering around the various parts of town, seeing the real places, where common folk frequented. I ended up at the university, and realized quickly the price of books was a fraction of back in the U.S.

One of the great things about music, is it is a universal language! How convenient for me, I stocked up, and nearly filled a suitcase with sheet music, Bach, Bethoven, Villa Lobos, Scarlatti, all the classics, with curious symbols, alongside the etude numbers, and original spanish, and german titles. I had an idea, if the sheet music was such a great deal, maybe I could find guitars at a good enough price to bring back, and help my students get higher quality instruments for a low price. After wandering through 5 or 6 stores of varying size, and varying specialties in instruments, I ended up back in the district where my father in law’s apartment was located, and I wandered into a music store I hadn’t noticed until then.


I found high quality instruments for a great price, I still haven’t found a way to get them back to Texas, but more importantly I met a new friend I would have for years to come.


(Ling Guo Xue, and son Cheng Xue)

This store was the most comprehensive I had come across. The instruments were higher quality, there were more of them. It was obvious quickly that the owner was a player, and had a passion for music. After trying out a few of the guitars he informed me that his son was currently attending The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and just so happened to be coming back home that weekend to visit of the holiday, he insisted I come to his home to meet him, and hang out. The picture above of the three of us is that day. We had allot in common musically, we both studied classical guitar in school, but had an interest in the Jazz, and various other styles. We still communicate fairly often, though the 12 hour time difference puts a bit of a damper on this.

Below I have embedded a few videos that were recorded after a night of BBQ, and white wine before I had my return journey to the States in the morning. I didn’t realize how good  the video of Ling Guo was when Mingyan my wife recorded it, and the video of me singing a song I teach often to my students while chopped off in the data transfer makes me immensely happy, I will remember that night for years to come.


Remember to keep an open mind, and get off the beaten path from time to time, the most cherished memories, and possessions are often found in the most unlikely of places.

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