Chinese Zither – Guzheng

Xu Qin

Asia | Instruments & repertories

The guzheng is a traditional Chinese plucked-string instrument from the zither family - the oldest traces of which date back to the third century B.C. Gǔ means ancient and zhēng means zither.

According to legend, there was a king who had two daughters who loved to play the instrument and were very skilled players. There came a time when the kind became too old to play himself, so he wanted to give his instrument to one of them. Of course, both daughters wanted to have it. The king was greatly saddened that he only had one instrument, and in the end, in despair, he decided to cut the instrument in half. One had 12 strings and the other thirteen. To his great surprise, the new instrument had sweet, soft sounds and was even more beautiful than the original. The king, overjoyed, gave a new name to the instrument: ‘zheng’.

The guzheng resembles a number of Asian instruments such as the Japanese koto, the Korean kayagum and even the Vietnamese dan tranh. Normally it comprises 21 strings placed over 21 moveable bridges, which are used to tune the instrument. The number of strings differs according to the type of zheng (some of them have up to thirty strings).

While the right hand plucks the cords with a plectrum (a special type of adhesive ribbon allows the plectrums to stick to the fingers), the left hand plays the strings in order to produce no only the desired pitch but also a multitude of timbres.

From its beginnings, the zheng was played in court music ensembles. Since the nineteenth century, it has become a soloist’s instrument – its repertoire has expanded and the technique has become more complex. Today, several gǔzhēng schools exist, notably in the United States.


Xu Qin, has a bachelors degree in musicology, is a music teacher and a piano accompanist for students of Chinese traditional, folk and ballet dances at the Academy of Dance in Beijing. She teaches guzheng at university also. Since her arrival in Geneva in 2013, she has performed  in several occasions..

To be agreed with the teacher

To be agreed with the teacher


Individual lesson : 60 CHF per individuel lesson during 45 minutes
80 CHFper individuel lesson during 60 minutes

En français : 
Rozen Arie - T : 078.850.18.26
E-mail :

En chinois : 
Xu Qin
E-mail :

Discover other classes