Research & Development

National education as cultural education:
Developing students’ Chinese cultural identity with learning and teaching Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and Guangzhou

Period: 2020 - 2022
Principal Invistigator: Prof. Leung, Bo Wah (Professor and Head of Department of Cultural and Creative Arts, The Education University of Hong Kong)
Co-Invistigator : Dr. Wang, Zhaoxia (Associate Professor, School of Music, South China Normal University)
Since the return of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China in 1997, Cantonese opera has been included in the SAR's school music curriculum. Cantonese opera has been officially included in the policy agenda of both Hong Kong and mainland China, to preserve it and to promote cultural education in schools.

As Cantonese opera is an art form replete with Chinese cultural elements, and thus suitable for promoting Chinese cultural identity, this study aims: 1) to investigate the current state regarding teaching and learning Cantonese opera in the schools of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, 2) to examine the extent to which variables such as teachers’ musical preference and teacher education in Hong Kong and Guangzhou may contribute to the teaching of Cantonese opera in music classes; and 3) to examine the extent to which learning Cantonese opera in schools may contribute to the development of Chinese cultural identity in students.

This study is in two phases employing a sequential explanatory mixed-method design. Phase I will be a questionnaire survey to investigate the current ways in which Cantonese opera is taught in schools. Phase II is a multiple-case study in which eight schools from both cities will be involved. This study will reflect the current situation in terms of teaching and learning of the genre, which will provide insights for future development.

Cantonese Opera:
Transmission for sustainability in Hong Kong

Period: 2016/7 - 2019/6
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
Co-Investigator(s): TAM, Cheung On, MATSUNOBU, Koji, MOK, Magdalena Mo Ching

This project is four-folded: Project 1 aims to examine the motivational effect of immersive experience on secondary students’ engagement in the appreciation of Cantonese opera through Virtual Reality. Project 2 validates the feasibility and effectiveness of applying the 3D Computerized Kinetic Chain Assessment and Learning System (CKCALS) for the teaching and learning of body movement in Cantonese opera. Project 3 investigates the current teaching practice of Cantonese operatic singing in the community and examine the teaching effectiveness of a new approach of learning Cantonese operatic singing. Project 4 investigates the current teaching practice of Cantonese opera accompaniment and examine and validate a new approach of learning the music accompaniment of Cantonese opera.


The Nature of Creativity in Cantonese Opera:
Perceptions of Artists, Connoisseurs and Beginners and their interaction

Period: 2015/1 - 2017/6
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
Co-Investigator(s): YU, Siu Wah
Granted by the General Research Fund in 2014-15, this research project has addressed three critical issues that impact on the future development of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong: (1) the nature of creativity demonstrated by eminent artists in the 20th century; (2) the extent to which the conceptions of creativity in Cantonese opera have changed from the perspectives of practicing artists and learners; (3) how artistic creativity can be re-valued by the profession and audience.


The Nature of Creativity in Cantonese Opera: Perception Changes of Artists, Connoisseurs and Beginners since 1930s in Hong Kong

Period: 2012/10 - 2013/12
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
This project acts as a pilot study for application of a GRF project. I hired an RA who was familiar with the repertoires and styles of Cantonese opera for seeking and compiling relevant literature as well as analysis of selected Cantonese opera excerpts. Personal style of singing of selected artist was shown through a comparison among three versions of some excerpts of a selected play. It was shown that creativity in Cantonese opera appears differently in the Chinese context of Cantonese opera. The project also provides evidence to support that some of the artists in early 20th century have shown their personal creativity by performances, which has founded a good model for the modern practice.


Collaborative Project on Teaching Cantonese Opera in a secondary school

Period: 2011/1 - 2012/12
Chief Investigator(s): Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong
Co-Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
The project aims at developing professional training of Cantonese opera in a secondary school. Twenty Secondary 1 students participated in the project for 2 years and they have received professional training of Cantonese opera by professional practitioners and trainers from the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong. The impact of the training and students' transformation have also be studied.



Transmission and pedagogical models in Cantonese Opera:
A study of the Chinese oral and the Western conservatory traditions in Hong Kong

Period: 2011/12 - 2013/7
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
Co-Investigator(s): LEONG, Samuel
This project has been granted by the General Research Fund of the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong in 2011-12. Cantonese opera is facing a crisis of transmission. Traditionally, Cantonese opera employs oral tradition in transmitting their artistry to the new generation. In recent decades, training artists for the profession has been influenced by the Western conservatory tradition. Different aspects of the genre are taught by different specialists during a limited length of time. This 20-month study has adopted a mixed-method approach in three phases. In Phase One, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five artists with backgrounds in oral tradition and five artists trained in conservatories. Researchers have also undertaken research visits to institutions of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province to interview teachers and students after class observations and seek their views on the characteristics of their training programs. The findings will help in formulating pedagogy models of oral and conservatory traditions to provide a theoretical framework for the next phase.


Collaborative Project on Teaching Cantonese Opera in Primary and Secondary Schools

Period: 2009/10 - 2012/12
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
Co-Investigator(s): MOK, On Nei Annie, YUEN, Tze Leung Raymond, CHAM-LAI Suk Ching
This project is financially supported by the QEF for 3 years. It aims to develop in-service music teachers in teaching Cantonese opera in schools. Cantonese opera artists are invited to collaborate with music teachers in schools for partnership teaching. A total of 60 schools were invited to participate in the project in three years. After collaborative teaching a series of CDROM were published to document their teaching plans and process.


Pilot Project on Teaching Cantonese Opera in Schools

Period: 2008/2 - 2009/4
Chief Investigator(s): LEUNG, Bo Wah
Co-Investigator(s): YUEN, Tze Leung Raymond, MOK, On Nei Annie
The project involved a professional artist of Cantonese Opera in collaborating with music teachers in teaching Cantonese opera in primary and secondary schools. Two primary and two secondary schools were involved in the project in which 14 primary music teachers and 2 secondary music teachers took 4 workshops on Cantonese Opera before teaching. The artist then jointly developed the teaching plans with school teachers and jointly taught the classes for eight weeks. The project aimed to pilot the artist-teacher partnership in teaching Cantonese Opera in schools.