Beijing 2016 Report

Hello My Friends,

Less Smog - More traffic

In Beijing the air is much clearer this year. Last year, after a full day walking around in the Lake Park district, I picked up the famous "Beijing Cough." After I left China on my last tour I took my my “Beijing Cough” with me. I hacked away for three more countries/Playshops before I got rid of it.

This year there is very little smog in this large metropolis. It is partly because of the unseasonably cool weather (so nice after hot sweaty Malaysia), and partly because of the rain storms that just came through. The cleaner air is also because of all the work that the government did in preparation for their 2008 Beijing Olympics which is finally paying off.

A few years before the Olympics took place, I was doing a corporate program in Beijing. When my guide/Government-handler took me around the city, the air was thick with smog. At that time, everyone in the city was using compressed coal cylinders to cook and keep warm. Besides their massive traffic jams, these mini cooking stoves were a major contribution to the smog. When my conversation with my guide came to the thick Beijing air, I asked how they were going to get rid of it by the Olympics.

He said the Government is going to run natural gas lines into every house in the city and eliminate the coal cookers. I said how are they going to accomplish that massive task in just the few short years before the Olympics start. He said, “In China, the Government can do what ever it wants.” He was right!

By the time the Olympics arrived, they got pretty close to the goal of putting natural gas in every apartment complex and household. But the government had to also shut down many smog causing industries for months before the Olympics started. They also severely restricted traffic in Beijing before and during the Olympics.

Now 16 years after the Olympics, 3/4 of Beijing housing and industry has access to natural gas.


I always love how the Chinese mis-translate their public signs into English. The best example of English mastication I found on this trip, was a road sign that read: “Warning, Crooked Road Ahead.”

Translation is a lot of work for the translators and for me— the presenter in Chinese Playshops. On my first China tour, I had three translators, Cao Lee, Ming Lin and Xining Chen at each of the three mainland China Playshops. I wore these poor translators out like a race driver wears out tires.

This is our third year of China Playshops and those three translators are still working with me now. But on this China tour, each one of the translators has become so proficient in their understanding of the Playshop protocol that they are each translating one full 3-day Playshop by themselves; Lee Lee in Beijing, Ming Ming in Xi’an and Jing in Hangzhou.

Now instead of sentence-for-sentence or paragraph-for-paragraph translation, I can now speak whole concepts, and all of these women can deliver them with clarity and efficiency.

Tonny from KHS, the China REMO distributer, had a commercial translation company translate the 65-page Playshop Workbook that Jim and I have been working on for the last two years and that I am now field testing on this tour. When my translators saw the VMC Workbook in the program, they attacked it’s mis-translation with gusto. After being involved in 4 to 6 China Playshops each, they understand the nuances of the language being used in the more advanced techniques and philosophies of DCFacilitation. Hopefully the corrected and updated Playshop Workbook will be ready to use in Hong Kong next month after my upcoming Japan Drum-About.

Tonny has learned his lesson well and I'm glad to announce my three Translators will be translating the Nelli Hill/Arthur Hull DCFacilitators Handbook for the China Drum Circle Facilitators Association, who will be publishing the book for China in Chinese.

The Beijing Playshop

We had 65 participants in this year's Beijing 3-day Playshop, which is pretty much the standard-sized population for any China Playshop.

Tonny is marketing manager for the China REMO distributer KHS, (KHS = Kong Hsue She, which translates to: (Kong) Contribute (Hsure) To School (She) Society.

Thee years ago Tonny asked me to develop a three-teared training system for China. So I re-initiated and used our old and retired VMC Level Training system. Here in the Chinese culture, the level system is working very well and speeds up the learning process, giving us more time for Jump-Time practice.

One thing that makes the system work is that each Playshop is separated by one year, so there is plenty of time for the Village Music Circles graduates to practice in real time for the next level.

Level One = First Timers; Basic body language = What to do, Musicality = When to do it; and Concept = Why.

Level Two = Second Playshop; Overlapping Challenge Course, Tasking jump-time at the edge of their experience and expertise. 

Level Three = Third Playshop; A mini-Mentor program that makes them responsible for group break out assignments + Advanced Jump-Time Tasking + (1), Running the Map. (2), Demonstrating Drum Call, and (3), Demonstration of Specific Anatomy of a Drum Circle Job descriptions.

This year in China, the overlapping 3-tier Level process was in full function. The "level twos" were great models for the beginning beginners who saw the advantage of doing the Playshop a second time. The "level twos" not only got their Challenge course but had great models for more sophisticated facilitation and leadership from the Level threes.

Doing two or more Level 3 Playshops qualifies participants to participate in the China 6-day Playshop and 10-day Mentor training scheduled in Beijing in 2018.

Zhang Nu - is a "level three" who Iives here at the Beijing Playshop and is a real good example of someone who has developed their radars beyond the technical facilitation applications and expanded them into larger aspects of running a DC event. Zhang Nu will attend all three China Playshops on this tour.

His name Is pronounced somewhere between Chang New and Shang New but neither, so I just call him Nu Nu. Nu Nu is a professional folk artist, master Pipa player (4-stringed Chinese Lute from inner Mongolia), Hawaii graduate and professor that teaches at the Ming Zu University in Beijing.

You may remember that the Ming Zu University is the “Minority" University that I did a Drum Circle at and reported on this list last year. Ming Zu will be attending the Professional Development Hawaii Playshop in August 2016.

We had a amazing Pitch mix of REMO drums and also some great and unique percussion Timber mix instruments for the Program. By the end of the Beijing Playshop, the 65 players sounded like a well-tuned percussion orchestra.

Now on to the central China city of Xi’an, (Pronounced - She An). Think Terra-cotta warriors.

Arthur in China {]]’;-)