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Valentine's Day Romeos Learn the Keys
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Tong Xingqun, a senior accountant at an international accounting firm in Guangzhou has been hard at work every weekend during the past couple of months.

But far from juggling balance sheets and bottom lines, the 28-year old romantic has devoted his free time to learning scales in preparation for a musical Valentine's Day wedding proposal.

Valentine's Day is today.

"I racked my brains coming up with a uniquely romantic proposal, and I decided to play the piano for her at a Western food restaurant on Valentine's Day," he told China Daily. "I don't think many people have done something like this before, and I'm fully confident that she will accept my proposal."

"Right now, I can play two pieces of piano music - both of them by the globally renowned French pianist Richard Clayderman and I've booked a window-side table where a piano is available for me."

By some coincidence, several young men in Guangzhou have signed up for piano lessons in the past months, mainly to show off for their sweethearts on Valentine's Day.

"I have received 18 such students since December. Most of them signed up for just a month or two, and their goal is very simple to play one piece of music well," said Yang Xuanxuan, a piano teacher at Guangzhou Youth Place.

"The regular teaching program was not appropriate for this time frame, so I had to figure out a special way to meet their demand in such a short period of time," she said.

Classical music

"Classical love music and popular songs are particularly popular with them."

Valentine's Day this year falls just four days before China's most important traditional festival, Chinese Lunar New Year (Spring Festival), which falls on Sunday.

Though somewhat overshadowed by the Spring Festival, Valentine's Day has helped spur the retail and restaurant sectors, not to mention other tertiary industrial sectors in Guangzhou.

"Business turnover has surpassed an average 18 million yuan (US$2.3 million) per day in the past days, which is about 50 percent higher than during other times of the year," said Chen Weihao, a department manager at the Grandbuy Department Store, one of Guangzhou's key department stores.

"Daily sales of things like chocolates, jewellery, watches, perfume and cosmetics, which are popular gifts for Valentine's Day, have risen by about 45 percent," he added.

Bars, clubs, restaurants especially those serving Western cuisine beauty salons, florists and taxi-drivers are among the beneficiaries of Valentine's Day spending.

According to the Cao Junjin, a florist in Guangzhou's Tianhe District, the prices of red roses lilies are expected to surpass 10 yuan (US$1.28), 10 times their cost during other times of the year.

(China Daily February 14, 2007)

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