Annual Chinese Karaoke Night is a “Love Confession” to Language Learning at Andover

Students in Chinese 320 dance to the Mandarin version of “Let it Go.”

Students in many classes coordinated outfits to match with the song they performed.

Pink balloons lay scattered on the Kemper Auditorium stage as Alex Zhong ’24 strummed chords on his guitar. Gathered onstage, students performed karaoke to “Gao Bai Qi Qiu” (“Love Confession”) by Jay Chou. Audience members sang along, waving their phone flashlights.

On the evening of October 27, each Andover Chinese class performed a Chinese song of their choice at their annual karaoke event. Their music choice spanned a wide range of genres, including movie music, pop covers, and traditional songs. Moreover, many classes incorporated choreography, from a synchronized dance to “Xiao Ping Guo” (“Little Apple”) to imitated sword fights. Audience member Julian Otto ’27 commented on highlights of the event.

“It was a really fun experience, I’m definitely going to come next year. It was a blast. I saw people putting in a lot of effort, a lot of leadership on stage… My favorite song was ‘Yi Jian Mei’ (‘A Branch of Plum Blossom’), more commonly known as ‘Xue Hua Piao Piao.’ I saw Michael Doherty [’27] really get into the dance, really showing assertiveness on stage. I also really loved Chinese ‘Let It [Go],’ because it really got the audience and the crowd involved. It was fantastic,” said Otto.

Hosted by Andover’s Chinese Department and Chinese Language Club, this event was entirely student-run, from tech support to clean-up. Student volunteers who made this karaoke possible included Chinese Club board members Michael Ma ’24, Tina Zeng ’24, Evelyn Kung ’26, and Alyssa Schoonmaker ’26, as well as EV Heck ’25 as emcee. Scallion pancakes were also served at the end as per tradition. Chinese teacher Dr. Congming Zhao explained the purpose of the event and how she thought it went. 

“To nurture students’ interest in Chinese language and Chinese culture…is probably the overarching goal, it gives students the opportunity to see real-life use of the language instead of just in a textbook… Everyone was so excited about their own performance and their friends’ performances, and everyone was such a good and responsive audience, so that was my favorite part,” said Zhao.

Each Chinese class spent ample time rehearsing for this performance, from learning their songs on instruments to brainstorming class choreography. Doherty, a student from Chinese 100, described their preparation process.

“We practiced everyday after class for 15 minutes, and we practiced the dance [individually] too. One person in our class prepared a video for the performance. In terms of challenges, we didn’t really know how to do the dance or what to do, so we found a video to model after, and it really helped,” said Doherty.

The karaoke show not only encouraged language learning, but also brought students from all across campus together. Seeing what each class came up with was a rewarding part of the experience, according to Isa Matloff ’24.

“It’s so fun to see everyone singing along, dancing to the music, and holding their phones up… I think getting to see what all of the classes come up with, and seeing people in a classroom setting coming together to create art is really awesome, especially for a language class where you usually might not see something like this. I think [it] is super cool,” said Matloff.

Overall, many students were able to find joy watching the performances. Audience member Julia Rocha ’25 echoed such sentiments. 

“This was the first time I’ve gone, and I’d seen pictures and videos of it, but the real thing was just so lively, and had a lot of energy. I didn’t expect it to be so full of life, and so fun for not only the people performing, but the audience as well… I really liked the [song] that went ‘Sorry, I can’t speak Chinese,’ because I can’t speak Chinese, and it truly helped me out. I also really liked the super choreographed ones. The ‘Let It Go’ [performance] was very funny. The choreography was so elaborate… I really would [take Chinese] if I could,” said Rocha.