A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s Children's Chinese Orchestra 小時代兒童國樂團, located in Irvine, California, is a symphony orchestra of young musicians from 5 to 13 years old playing traditional Chinese musical instruments. We are the first and only children’s orchestra in Southern California that plays traditional Chinese instruments. Our extensive repertoire is an exciting crossover of Chinese and Western classic, folk, and pop music played on traditional Chinese instruments. Audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and tastes love our music.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s Children's Chinese Orchestra is all acoustic and, where possible, also unamplified. This allows the audience to experience the pure essence and feeling of the music without embellishments and theatrics.
The Orchestra is a fully acoustic symphonic children’s orchestra playing traditional Chinese instruments whose repertoire is specially arranged by ALD Music Director Mr. Yunhe Liang. Mr. Liang, an accomplished performer, composer, and educator of both Western and Chinese music, custom arranges the performance music for each orchestra member based on the instrument played and skill level of the orchestra member so that the full orchestra can perform with stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy.
We have performed throughout Southern California at historic and iconic venues such as Huntington Library, Soka University’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, Chapman University's Memorial Hall, Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios, the Segerstrom Center for the Art's Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Argyros Plaza, South Coast Plaza, Bowers Museum, Laguna Woods Village, Knott's Berry Farm, Newport Beach Public Library, Irvine Global Village Festival, Irvine Valley College, Irvine City Council, Asian Pacific Festival, Irvine Winter Wonderland, Lakeview Senior Center, the Ontario Museum of Art and History, Irvine City Hall, Tustin Tiller Days, the New Life Christian Center, Wellington Senior Center in Laguna Woods, among other places and have always been a big hit with the audiences of all ages. Our Orchestra's first public concert was at UC Irvine's Winifred Smith Concert Hall in September 2018. A Little Dynasty Chinese School's Children's Chinese School Orchestra has been featured in numerous local and international TV shows and newspapers.
Every A Little Dynasty Chinese School's Children’s Chinese Orchestra performance is an original. Because our performances are live, all acoustic, dynamically conducted, with members and instruments that vary between performances, no two performances are the same. Each performance is guaranteed to be fresh and exciting.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s Children's Chinese Orchestra is a strong supporter of our local community and participate in many volunteer performances at libraries, schools, senior centers, community celebrations, and music and arts festivals to help enrich the cultural lives of the community. Members of the orchestra are eligible to earn The President’s Volunteer Service Award to honor the positive impact they make in our community.
Orchestra members are all Chinese language students of A Little Dynasty Chinese School. A Little Dynasty Chinese School is all about making learning Chinese language fun and accessible to students of all backgrounds. In fact, a majority of our students come from non-Chinese speaking backgrounds. The Orchestra teaches our students a unique skill and provides the community with an exciting new form of cultural enrichment.
A Little Dynasty Children's Chinese Orchestra History
What are the chances that that a diverse group of typical Southern California kids from Asian-American, European-American, Latin-American, and African-American backgrounds can come together and form, of all things, an authentic traditional Chinese orchestra? As improbable as that sounds, it actually happened!
From its beginnings, A Little Dynasty Chinese School has been creating new and fun ways of learning Chinese language. Early on, A Little Dynasty Chinese School started teaching its students how to play simple songs on the erhu, pipa, and guzheng in its Mandarin immersion classes. The Chinese instruments were a big hit and the students were hooked.
The students were so enthusiastic about playing Chinese instruments that they and their parents demanded professional music teachers that could take their Chinese instrument skills to the next level. As a result, A Little Dynasty Chinese School brought in professional Chinese instrument teachers but insisted that the new teachers teach in Chinese, so our students would still be learning Chinese language in their music lessons.
In time, our students became skilled enough to join a true Chinese orchestra, with full scores, sections, and a conductor, just like the ones in Asia. However, there were no children’s Chinese orchestras in Southern California so we established our own. A Little Dynasty Chinese School appointed renowned musician Mr. Yunhe Liang as A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s first Music Director who turned our Chinese school students into a real Chinese orchestra. Mr. Liang tirelessly trained our students in large ensemble skills, arranged and composed music for our students, and became a beloved mentor to our students.
Under Mr. Liang's direction, A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s Children’s Chinese Orchestra launched and became a big hit with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Through the orchestra, A Little Dynasty Chinese School students have learned the value of community service, learned to overcome their anxieties, learned to concentrate, and of course, learn really good Chinese language skills.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School Music Teachers
The teachers at ALD Chinese school are no ordinary music teachers. They are renowned musicians, composers, and recording artists who studied under prominent masters at the most elite conservatories. They perform at world class venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York and have composed scores and soundtracks for major entertainment concerns including the Walt Disney Company. ALD Chinese School music teachers have performed with major orchestras in the United States, China, Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, among other places.
Our music teachers are also expert educators who are members of the California Music Teachers Association and have decades of teaching experience including authoring popular music textbooks. Their intimate knowledge and expertise of both Western and Chinese music and instruments give them the unique ability to synthesize Chinese and Western music systems which serves to broaden the musical horizons of A Little Dynasty Chinese School students.
All of the amazing music teachers at ALD Chinese school began their musical journeys as young children. After achieving personal and professional success, these famous musicians now devote themselves to teaching A Little Dynasty Chinese School students solely for the purpose of passing on the heritage and knowledge of traditional Chinese instruments and music, as well as a passion for music itself, to a new generation, just like themselves when they were young.
ALD CHINESE CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA INSTRUCTORS
Yunhe Liang – ALD Music Director
Mr. Yunhe Liang is an award winning musician, conductor, and composer. He has performed on stage and television since age 10 at venues including the LA Music Center and the Hollywood Bowl. Mr. Liang composed and performed the erhu theme music for Shanghai Disneyland. Mr. Liang is a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
Mr. Zhiming Shu is a theatre musician whose work has been featured in numerous stage productions and television shows including Shanghai Yue operas. He has performed live at venues including the Lincoln Center in New York. Mr. Shu is a graduate of the music department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy.
Ms. Jiale Yi is a recording artist and director of the Chinese Dulcimer Association. Her work has appeared in numerous television shows and music CDs. Ms. Yi is a graduate of the Tianjin Conservatory of Music and has studied at the Central Conservatory of Music.
Ms. Jennie Hu is an award winning musician of plucked string instruments. She comes from a family of artists in Shanghai. She studied under professors from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and is the author of textbooks on the zither and pipa.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School History
Chinese School Reimagined
When A Little Dynasty Chinese School opened in the fall of 2010, it precipitated the end of the traditional Chinese school curriculum that had remained virtually unchanged in the U.S. since the 1970s. A Little Dynasty Chinese School pioneered a new kind of Chinese school: one specifically designed to (1) make learning Chinese fun and (2) make learning Chinese accessible to children from non-Chinese speaking families.
Since no “off-the-shelf” curriculum existed that was both fun and accessible at the time A Little Dynasty Chinese School opened, we developed our own proven curriculum and wrote and published our own textbooks and workbooks, and multi-media learning materials. ALD also wrote, performed and produced our own songs, CD albums, and music videos to help students learn Chinese.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School was an immediate and continuing success. Other Chinese schools began to follow A Little Dynasty Chinese School's lead as they observed the advantages of A Little Dynasty Chinese School’s new approach. When the Capistrano Unified School District inaugurated the first public-school Mandarin immersion program in Orange County, they turned to A Little Dynasty Chinese School to help them design their curriculum. It is no exaggeration to say that A Little Dynasty Chinese School has changed forever the way Chinese schools teach.
A Little Dynasty Chinese School has stayed true to its founding creed of making learning Chinese fun by never ceasing to innovate. In 2011, A Little Dynasty Chinese School released two albums of original Chinese language children's songs becoming the only Chinese school in the United States to do so. In 2011, A Little Dynasty Chinese School developed the first Chinese school summer camp in America that provided students with an authentic summer study abroad experience without leaving the country. In 2015, A Little Dynasty Chinese School created the first and only Children’s Chinese Orchestra in Southern California. In 2017, A Little Dynasty Chinese School invented the first Chinese Immersion summer STEM lab to teach Chinese language with hands on experiments. In 2020, A Little Dynasty Chinese School launched its E Learning Experience, the first teacher-led, fun, lively, and effective fully-interactive online Chinese language school. Despite all of the “firsts” A Little Dynasty Chinese School has achieved, A Little Dynasty Chinese School is always working hard on the next big innovation to make learning Chinese fun!