Mark | Pao
| Sarah M | Nico
| Dylan | Cristina
Ger Xiong brought two Hmong flutes and
a qeej. He started off by playing the small flute, the most
popular [instrument]. He played a lovely song [that goes like
this] "I left my land to this land, I miss my homeland,
my friends and relatives..." The flutes were used to
communicate from far distances long ago, when they didn’t
have phones or anything...
When there is a funeral, you need a qeej player to guide
the dead person. The qeej talks to the spirit...[to guide
it] to ancestors. It’s really difficult to play the
qeej and learn the many different songs [for] funerals...Ger
Xiong’s dad taught him how to play the qeej, so he got
good at it...There are not many qeej players. About 50 or
60. I’m just estimating. That’s not very many
Hmong guys...Me and Pao are learning how to play the qeej!!!
Ger won first place at the tournament for
doing nice keng playing. He can do lots of stuff while playing
the keng like jump, hop, stand on his neck, and flips. He
said he is the best keng player in the world. He also said
that he learned how to play when he was small like our age.
Ger Xiong is a k'eng player, a flute
player, and also a really neat guy. Ger has lived in Eau Claire
since 1991 and works as a machine operator. He plays the keng
at Hmong New Year and at funerals. He says it is very difficult
to learn how to play the keng, since there isn’t written
music or even notes. You learn from a “master”
and copy what he does. If you don’t study hard, you
can’t play. Ger thinks it is very important to pass
on the keng playing tradition, because if it is dropped there
will be no way to talk to the spirits.
Ger Xiong himself is a very talented player. He won first
place in the Hmong International competition. In order to
be a good keng player, Ger not only had to learn how to play
the instrument, but how to dance. When he plays the keng he
swoops his body around and crosses his feet. He can do pretty
fancy things while playing the keng, like flips, somersaults,
and headstands. Ger also brought two flutes to show us. The
flutes are played when a boy comes to a girl’s house
at night and tries to beckon her outside. Ger Xiong was a
really awesome guy. I’m glad I got to see him.
The flute was used to communicate through
the mountains, and to communicate between a boyfriend and
girlfriend. It is very, very complicated to learn.
As Ger Xiong played, his fingers moved quickly, and he moved
his lips up and down to control the amount of air going into
Ger Xiong has been living in Eau Claire
since 1991, and he works as a
machine operator. He and his kids sometimes do cultural shows.
He learned how to play the qeej from his dad when he lived
in Laos. He brought two flutes and played them for us. He
moves his mouth up and down to make different sounds on the
flute. He also played a qeej and told us about playing the
qeej at funerals. Normally the qeej players are people known
by the family of the deceased. It is very hard to play the
qeej. You have to be very good to play it at a funeral. He
thinks it is important for youngsters to learn the qeej, so
that the tradition can be passed down and kept alive.
Ger Xiong wore Hmong clothes in bright
colors like white, yellow, pink, orange, green and blue. One
of his flutes was made out of part of a soda bottle. Ger Xiong
put it there so the sound would come out better. Back in Laos,
instead of using soda tops they used tall fat bamboo. The
qeej needs six or seven pieces of bamboo with a hole in it
for different sounds. Ger Xiong said that the flute and qeej
say words. To understand, he said you have to be Hmong.
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