Andover Chinese Department Students Perform at Annual Karaoke Night

Students in Lilia Cai’s, Instructor in Chinese, Chinese 420 class sing and dancing to 别人家的小孩 (Somebody Else’s Kid) by Yibo Wang.

Students in Lixia Ma’s, Instructor in Chinese, Chinese 520 Class performing 那些你很冒险的梦 (Those Were the Days) by JJ Lin.

From the classic “小苹果” (Little Apples) by the Chopsticks Brothers to a Chinese rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” every Chinese class at Andover prepared a performance of a Chinese song for the annual Chinese Department karaoke night last Wednesday in Kemper Auditorium.

Waving their phone flashlights, audience members cheered for performers and enjoyed scallion pancakes. Audience member Rishvith Kandru ’25 commented on the high-energy atmosphere.

“The crowd was electric especially when songs, like ‘Call Me Maybe,’ came on in Chinese. Some groups had dances, and everything was catchy… It was all super upbeat and everyone was into [it]… All you can do is smile, the whole thing was a blast,” said Kandru.

Each Chinese class rehearsed and performed a song suitable for their class level and experience with the language. Last year, Chinese karaoke night was held under an outdoor tent due to Covid-19 restrictions. Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese, noted that this year’s performance attracted more audience members.

“This year, somehow, there were a lot of people [at the karaoke night]. Kemper was full. I guess people had fun last year and brought more friends over, including students who don’t take Chinese,” said Ma.

According to Ma, many of the songs also included vocabulary the students were learning at their respective Chinese levels. Ma expressed that beyond an upbeat bonding opportunity, karaoke night also allowed students to strengthen their Chinese language skills.

“Every class had a different song. The songs [ranged from] children’s lullabies to very hard rap songs…At the beginning of the class, they sang it once and at the end, they sang it again…When the students sing, it’s easier for them to remember the words. [They] picked up some new words outside of their textbooks,” said Ma.

Some classes prepared choreographed dances in addition to singing. Suhaila Cotton ’24, a student in Lilia Cai’s, Instructor in Chinese, Chinese 420 class, performed “别人家的小孩”(Somebody Else’s Kid) by Yibo Wang from the Chinese show 创造101, known in English as Produce 101 China.

“My class was pretty obsessed with [the performance] and we decided to go all out and memorize [the] song and do a similar choreograph[y]… In class we practiced a lot and memorized our parts over the weekend… I loved the dance we put together and how everyone in the class took part in it,” said Cotton.

Cotton’s classmate, Thao Pham ’25, noted the difficulties of creating a feasible dance routine in the one to two weeks they had to prepare. Nonetheless, according to Pham, the experience helped her foster camaraderie with her peers, which Pham felt led to an overall successful performance.

“Our biggest challenge was creating a choreography that was easy enough for everyone to remember and perform. We all had a lot of ideas, and I think that what we came up with in the end was a really great combination of all of them,” said Pham.

Ma also emphasized the casual and welcoming nature of karaoke night. Students were not required to completely memorize songs. Ma hoped that the event’s focus on fun and collaboration would make for an accessible and low-stakes environment.

“In normal karaokes, I think you actually have to know how to sing the songs. This [puts] more [emphasis on] participation. Sometimes, the students didn’t do a lot of singing, but they danced to the music. I think it’s more fun. Normally, it would just be one person going up [on stage] to sing, but this is a whole class performing together,” said Ma.

Pham echoed Ma’s sentiment. Despite the short rehearsal timeframe, she felt this experience helped bring her closer to her classmates.

“I just learned to have fun during these kinds of projects and events. We didn’t really have much time to prepare, but I really enjoyed being able to talk and interact more with my classmates,” said Pham.