Music Can Take You Places–Like China

September 28, 2017

Music can take you places, and no one knows that better than Galilee’s own choir director Jordan Markwood. Jordan just got back from Shanghai, where four of his former Rock Ridge High School students performed on Chinese TV!

Jordan Markwood with the 4 Tones of Rock Ridge High School

Jordan has been teaching the students in the “4 Tones” since they were in sixth grade! They graduated this past summer, but one of their public performances found its way on to Chinese social media thanks to an enthusiastic relative of one of the boys. Amazingly, there soon followed a phone call. The 4 Tones were wanted on a major Chinese television special in which foreigners sing Chinese songs. 

Were the boys game to fly to Shanghai and sing in a language they didn’t even speak? You bet they were!


The 4 Tones sang two songs for the TV show, “Hao Han Ge” and “Peng You.”  They first learned the music and then they worked with language coaches and professional music producers.  
“They did such a nice job!” says Jordan. “Speaking/singing in Chinese is really challenging, as it is a tonal language and we are not used to communicating in that way. Participating in this process showed the boys how much work is involved in television production. They worked for a week to record about ten minutes of video.”

The power of music.

“In China, I was reminded that music is a universal language.” Jordan explains. “Even if I could not understand what a person was singing about, I was moved by their music and performance. Lots of people spoke English which helped to communicate with the other performers, coaches, and producers, when we had to.”
“We’re always communicating, even when we don’t know we are. For instance, as we worked with a language coach we kept hearing her say a Chinese word that sounded like an inappropriate English word. We laughed, but she thought we were laughing at her!  That reminded me how important it was to remain professional, because she was getting offended as she did not know why we were laughing.”
“Music helps us relate if we don’t understand the language. When I traveled to Sierra Leone last summer, we went out on a medical mission and no one spoke English. Through body language, I got the kids to sing and teach me how to sing one of their songs. Learning their music showed that I value their culture and appreciate what they can teach me.”
Making friends through song in Sierra Leone, 2016.

It’s safe to say that Jordan has the traveling bug. “I would love to take the Galilee choir somewhere! Caroling over the holidays would be a ton of fun. We could visit some our Chapel friends. It would be fun to combine with another choir like we did this past Sunday, maybe at another church. ”

Galilee’s music ministry is made possible through volunteers–like you. We are always looking for new talent: choir singers, handbell ringers, sound technicians to help with services or GPP, instrumentalists to accompany the choir or bells, or any solo performers for an offertory or prelude/postlude piece.
Is this the next Star Search? Will you rocket to fame in China? We can’t guarantee that, but who knows? If you are interested in making music at Galilee, e-mail Jordan or attend a rehearsal.  
“Come watch a rehearsal to see what it’s like,” offers Jordan. “I will work with you to see how you can use your musical gifts to glorify God.”
Combined Annandale and Galilee UMC choirs. The choir could be this big all the time.