In recent years, quite a number of radical individuals involved in serious offences have been admitted to correctional institutions.
With the rehabilitation needs of such individuals in mind, the Correctional Services Department has introduced various activities to instil positive values among those in custody. This includes promoting Chinese music in the form of drum classes.
The classes fall under the department’s “Understanding History is the Beginning of Knowledge” educational initiative, part of the Project PATH programme, and are run in collaboration with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra.
Fifteen individuals in custody have taken the classes so far and after six sessions they were able to give a performance for their parents.
One of the titles of the songs they played literally translates as “Chinese.” One performer, named Ming (a pseudonym), said that playing it made him feel proud to be Chinese.
“The Chinese drum is an instrument invented by Chinese,” he added. “As part of the People’s Republic of China, I have a sense of accomplishment.”
Another performer, named Ho (also a pseudonym), said performing Chinese music had helped him to understand more about Chinese culture.
“From dragon and lion dances to Chinese drama, we can see Chinese instruments all over the place,” he said.
Besides enhancing inmates’ sense of national identity by providing lessons in Chinese music and drama, as well as virtual reality and e-sports activities, Project PATH also focuses on psychological rehabilitation, reconstructing values, life planning and rebuilding family relationships.
Correctional Services Department Superintendent (Special Duty) Lam Che-leung noted that Chinese music, as an important part of Chinese culture, is performed in many scenarios such as celebrations and funerals.
“Let those youngsters experience it for themselves, thus allowing them to appreciate Chinese culture and cultural inheritance more, thereby enhancing their sense of belonging to the country and their national pride,” he said.
Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Executive Director Celina Chin further elaborated that there are many stories behind Chinese music and that through these it is possible to learn about traditional ideology and values.
She added: “We chose drums as the instrument to introduce because drumming is a relatively easy thing to learn, and it also symbolises the way we are beating the drum to cheer the inmates on in their rehabilitation.”