When the New Year performance of schoolchildren for 2019, Blessed Snow Falls on New Year’s Day, was given, the audience were enchanted by a little boy who played skillfully the xylophone, drums and the piano.
He was Jong Song Gwan, 10-year-old student at the primary grade of the Kumsong Middle School No. 1.
He was tutored to play the piano at the Kyongsang Kindergarten, a renowned base for training reserve artistes in Korea, and then promoted to the present school.
Jong showed a gifted talent for playing the piano in his kindergarten days, so everybody expected he would become a famous pianist. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to his parents when he expressed his will to learn the xylophone after he entered the school.
His parents tried to persuade him to continue his major, saying that he had a solid foundation to master the piano, but to no avail.
Jong was charmed by the xylophone with unique tone colours when he saw the artistic demonstrations by senior students.
Jong Sol Mi, instructor of the Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, still remembers the day when the boy came to her to learn the xylophone.
Jong proved himself to have a born talent; he was correct in performance techniques and quick at learning. But he had troubles with his rigid postures and stiff face on the stage, a reflection of his shy disposition.
His instructor trained him in rhythmic movements and showed videotaped performances of the senior students so as to cultivate his confidence.
Thanks to the painstaking endeavours, Jong developed his performance techniques, and in less than a year he was able to play the chords using four sticks, two in each hand. He also learned to play the drums.
With the development of his techniques, he felt more keenly the gratitude to his instructor and class teacher, and even his kindergarten teacher, who paid close attention to his growth and development.
Jong was highly appreciated by all the jurors in an artistic contest held in October last year, and his performance was chosen as a number for the New Year performance.
He is an avid reader, earning the nickname “a walking dictionary on common sense” by his classmates.
After returning home from the New Year performance, Jong wrote in his diary:
“I will strive harder to become an excellent musician to live up to the expectations of my family members who are proud of me.”