Gaining Fluency in Language, Music, and Culture

Asian girl playing the guitar and singing the song

“Music and language provided a great conduit for becoming an American.”


When teenager Qiao arrived in the United States from China, she spoke only Cantonese and just a few words of English. She was thrust into a new culture and a new language. Everything was different, unfamiliar, and frightening.

Hoping to find a way to fit in to her new world, Qiao joined the Boys & Girls Club shortly after arriving in Boston. Since she already loved music, Qiao’s first stop was the Music Clubhouse. Coincidentally, the Music Clubhouse director spoke conversational Cantonese! Qiao was thrilled to find someone to speak to at the Clubhouse. This connection proved to be pivotal for her.

Qiao first explored the guitar and then began drum lessons. She also took music theory and ear training classes and excelled at both. She built strong relationships with her mentors who helped her explore these different instruments. Only two months after picking up an instrument for the first time, Qiao performed with an ensemble group at the Clubhouse’s Halloween concert. Since then, she has progressed further in her music studies, and she has gained even more confidence to perform in front of her peers and large audiences.

Qiao is an exceptional student, both academically and musically. She is highly motivated, practices her music independently, and seeks out information using any resource within reach. Additionally, Qiao is now fluent not only in the English language, but also in the cultural vernacular, fitting right in with her peers. She has built a network of friends who come with her to the Music Clubhouse.

Qiao’s participation in the Clubhouse has truly made a difference in helping her adjust to life in America. “Music and language provided a great conduit for Qiao becoming an American”, says her Clubhouse director.