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Finding harmony in Mandarin melodies

Updated: 2024-05-29 07:54 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Mateus Felipe Sousa Pereira holds his Chinese calligraphy work at the "2019 Shared Joy in Jiangsu" Chinese Speech Contest. CHINA DAILY

The reason I love singing in Mandarin is quite simple: it combines two things that I love — Chinese and music.

Music is my passion. In China, one thing I enjoy is KTV. It's very popular here and all over Asia, but not so much back home in Brazil. Whenever I have the chance, I gather my friends for a KTV session — it's easily one of my favorite activities.

My Chinese friends are always surprised when I start singing Chinese songs. They get excited to see a Brazilian guy singing in Mandarin.

Before I came to Shanghai University in 2019, I studied Chinese for a year at Soochow University in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, and I fell in love with the language. I am a person who likes to learn languages in general. Besides my native language, Portuguese, I also speak English, Chinese, Spanish, and French.

For me, learning Chinese has been an interesting journey because it is so different from Portuguese; everything about it is new, which makes the learning process an exciting adventure.

In 2018, I took part in the "2018 Shared Joy in Jiangsu" Foreigner Singing and Talent Competition, co-hosted by the Information Office of Jiangsu Provincial People's Government and Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation. Alongside another foreign student, I performed the theme song from the 2005 Chinese movie, The Myth. It was my debut on Chinese television, and an unforgettable experience.

Then, in 2019, I won second place in the "2019 Shared Joy in Jiangsu "Chinese Speech Contest. In my speech, I passionately expressed my love for Chinese calligraphy, an art form that deeply resonates with me.

I also attribute this to my habit of singing Chinese songs, which is not just enjoyable but also a linguistic exercise, helping me expand my Chinese vocabulary, especially when it comes to poetic expressions. When I'm learning a song, for example, I review previously learned words and acquire new ones, which further aids my language learning.

In terms of music, it's been a huge part of my life since I was little. Around the age of five, I started singing at church. I learned to play the piano as my main instrument, and I also play a bit of guitar. I listen to music every day. I'm keen on learning everything about music, including its theory and harmony.

To me, music is the most beautiful way to express oneself. Although you can't see it, you can definitely feel it.

At Shanghai University, I've been actively involved in music. I take pride in leading the tenor section in the foreign students' choir. Our teacher, Professor Xu Yan, has taught us valuable lessons about singing, such as how to refine our tones, dynamics, and resonance. Our weekly rehearsals are not only productive but also fun. We are often invited to perform both on and off campus. As a team, we also engage in activities outside the university, fostering even stronger bonds among us.

This year, I participated in the Top Ten Singers Competition, an annual event at Shanghai University open to both local and international students. Starting from the preliminary rounds in December 2023, I sang songs in Chinese, English, and Italian, and ultimately won the championship during the final on March 31.

It was a great experience and a valuable learning opportunity, pushing me to work harder on my skills in dynamics, emotional expression, and vocal range.

These days, every time I sing, I find myself devoting more attention to every little detail, all thanks to the lessons learned from the competition.

Music isn't just a passion for me; it's a way of life. Throughout my musical journey, I've grown not only as a singer but also as a person. Similarly, Chinese has opened up a whole new world for me, one that is so different from my home country. In my lifelong journey of learning music and Chinese, I aspire to continue experiencing new adventures and exploring more uncharted territories.

Written by Mateus Felipe Sousa Pereira, a 26-year-old Brazilian student majoring in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at Shanghai University. He is passionate about both music and the Chinese language.

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