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MARCH 23, 2012
Veggie Music
Two Chinese musicians take playing with their food to a whole new level
 
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Petar Kujundzic
Nan Weidong practices an instrument made from a potato and a bamboo shoot.
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Petar Kujundzic / Reuters
 

Do you consider yourself an expert at playing with your food? Even if you can toy with dinner on an advanced level, you might be impressed with the work of brothers Nan Weidong and Nan Weiping. Instead of eating their vegetables, these Chinese artists use them to create working musical instruments.

In the Nans' hands, a bunch of carrots hollowed out and tied together with leeks becomes a pan flute. The brothers can transform a sweet potato into a 12-holed ocarina and a yam into a whistle. They carve bamboo shoots—a common ingredient in Asian dishes—into flutes.

Vegetables and music were a large part of the brothers' lives when they were growing up. Their father was a music teacher who raised them on a vegetable farm in central China. He taught them how to play traditional musical instruments, skills they now use to make a living as adults.

Weiping and Weidong appear regularly on Chinese television, playing a wide variety of music on their vegetable instruments.

Each musical appearance takes a lot of preparation. In addition to rehearsing the songs they will play, the brothers also have to make a new set of instruments out of fresh vegetables for every concert.

"The vegetables have to be solid and hard," Nan Weidong told Reuters. "We can't use vegetables left over for days. They are too soft to be played."

He also says they choose vegetables with lots of water in them, as those make the best instruments.

The brothers' craftsmanship is also important to the instruments' sound.

"The deeper the hole, the lower the pitch. The shallower the hole, the higher the pitch," said Nan Weiping. "The size of the holes also matters . . . to the quality of the sound."

The brothers didn't say whether they eat their musical creations when the concerts are over.



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