Guqin Lessons

After constructing three instruments, I finally started taking formal guqin lessons—from Lui PuiYuen (吕培源).

This all came about in an interesting way. More than ten years ago, I found the 與古齋琴譜 (Abiding with Antiquity Guqin Manual, 1855, tr. Binkley) on the internet while looking for construction details. After making my first one, I decided to improve on the design, and in 2010, I was inspired to make two more instruments. I kept a construction blog, including an album of the entire process.

Jim Binkley, who translated the 與古齋琴譜, found my blog and wrote me with some questions. He now teaches computer science at Portland State University. I also asked him if he knew of any contacts in Southern California, since the guqin is a relatively obscure instrument. He said that one of the best players still alive is Mr. Lui, and that I might contact one of his former students, Alan Yip, and get connected.

After meeting up with Alan and later with Lui Laoshi, I started my first lesson on April 22. The curriculum started with 仙翁操 and 湘江怨. The next lesson included 古琴吟 and 秋風詞. Now, I’m working on 歸去來辭. Many of these are based on ancient poems.

I’ll try to post recordings when I get a chance.


  1. That’s a lot of pieces to be taught within one lesson. To top that off, new pieces every time? I’m surprised that you can remember them all within such a short time! Props to you, Dr. Wong, for your impressive memory.

    And oh, don’t forget to enjoy the music and chew slowly. 🙂

    • Taking lessons has been a lot of fun and very rewarding. I started at the end of April, and progress has been good. So far, I’ve learned nine pieces, in order: 仙翁操, 湘江怨, 古琴吟, 秋風詞, 歸去來辭, 良宵引, 酒狂, 極樂吟, 陽關三疊. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I don’t try to rush my teacher in my twice-monthly lessons; he just gives me pieces as he sees fit. Looking forward to my next lesson this upcoming Sunday, July 15. (By the way, I had enjoyed looking through Toronto Guqin Society’s website and your bio. I self-taught as well, years ago, and it’s nice to finally take real lessons.)

  2. Hello,

    My name is Richard Houghten. I am a musician and composer. I really want to ask Lui PuiYuen a question and have no idea how to get a hold of him. Any info would be be so much appreciated! That’s really cool that you have started taking lessons. I too am really interested in starting. Thanks so much

    From Richard

    • I can probably ask him for you. My lesson is this Sunday. You can try calling him too… do you speak Chinese? And are you still in Seattle?

  3. Dr. Daniel Chan

    I am looking for an instructor in Southern California area (preferably Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley area but even Orange County is fine)to learn guqin. I would appreciate contact information for any potential instructors. Please kindly communicate with me via my email address.
    Thank you.
    Dr. Chan

  4. Do you any one to recommend in San Francisco to take lessons?

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