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Love the Violin, Love the Music

May, 2017
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0j7a3270e589afe69cac“My daughter told me she wants to play violin after I showed her your photos of the violin concert at Yew Chung International School of Beijing,” says one WeChat friend, a parent in Shanghai. “It’s such a wonderful concert, congratulations!”

The photo she mentioned is a lovely little girl, Sophia Wu, Year 3 student at YCIS Beijing. Sophia has been studying at the school for four years and she has been playing violin for four years. “I like playing violin because there are many songs that make me happy. Turkey March is currently my favorite music,” said Sophia.

Sophia is one of these talented students in Years 1-3 who performed a variety of pieces with their homeroom classes during the annual YCIS Beijing Primary School Violin Concert on 27 April. The talents of these young musicians and the beautiful songs truly wowed the audience.

0j7a3198e589afe69cac-3The Years 1-3 Violin Program is a staple of the school’s vibrant Arts and Music Program. The program has been in place at Yew Chung International School of Beijing for over 10 years. Students learn violin from Years 1-3. In ECE K4, they also begin a ‘taster’ program towards the end of their K4 year. This program introduces students to the violin and prepares them for the following years study. At the end of Year 3, students are welcome to continue their study of the violin or choose another instrument to pursue as part of the instrumental program. In this time the program has been led and developed by Cindy Guo and Ai Li, who are both violin specialists.

A selection of experts from YCIS Performing Arts Department, including Head of Performing Arts Daniel Pearton, Violin Specialists Cindy Guo and Ai Li, and Primary Music Teacher Anne Dwyer, explained the reasoning behind this focus on violin study at such an early age, as well as the benefits it brings to students.

At the heart of the Yew Chung Education Foundation’s belief in a holistic education model sits music and the performing arts. Dr. Betty Chan, Director of Yew Chung International Schools, saw the importance music plays for the brain development of young people and consequently introduced the violin program into every YCIS Primary School.

Music is a core component of the YCIS education program, commencing in the ECE. Music programs help develop a range of skills that are relevant to all students. Through playing, singing, composing, performing, listening, and responding to music, students develop skills that are important for social and academic development. Music programs allow for students to create, learn, and solve problems.

0j7a3125e589afe69cac-3Recent investigations into how the brain functions have also helped shed light on how music helps academic achievement. Previous studies had shown a clear correlation between learning a musical instrument and academic achievement, but exactly how this happened was not always clear. Now people know that music stimulates the brain, helping language and mathematical development. Through song, students learn to distinguish between similar speech sounds, which helps with language. Learning rhythms, decoding notes and symbols, and looking at patterns in music helps develop mathematical skills.

The violin program that is undertaken by all students in Years 1-3 provides an opportunity to develop core musicianship skills. Students develop a sense of pitch, rhythm, and tempo, along with the ability to play and perform with others. Through learning the violin, the foundation is set for studying any instrument.

And the program benefits the students a lot more. YCIS students develop the discipline associated with mastering a musical instrument and the skills associated with performing. The ability to concentrate as well as find motor skills is developed while playing the instrument. Students, when learning and playing with others, need to develop their collaborative skills as well as the ability to follow a conductor’s cues. Moreover, students can experience increased self-esteem from belonging to an ensemble or being involved in performance.

The violin program is only part of a broader Performing Arts program. Classroom music is offered to all students from ECE onwards. Performing Arts is introduced into the curriculum from Year 4, providing students with a broad range of opportunities.

YCIS offers a range of ensembles for students to join, along with yearly dramatic productions. The repertoire that is set for each ensemble responds to the skill level and interests of the students, providing opportunities to extend and refine musicianship and performance techniques. Students are also provided with opportunities to perform at assemblies, school events, and in the broader community.

0j7a3280e589afe69cac-3Students at YCIS Beijing also have the opportunity to play in the junior orchestra starting from Year 4. This ensemble encompasses students in Years 4-6. They rehearse once a week and perform in Primary School concerts throughout the year.

And the IIIP program allows students to learn various orchestral and rock instruments from the team of professional instrumental specialists. This program allows students to perform at dedicated IIIP recitals.

In Secondary School, students have the opportunity to play in the senior school orchestra. This ensemble rehearses once a week and performs an exciting selection of both contemporary and classical music. This ensemble is lead by Lianne Yu. In addition to this ensemble, students who display an interest in rock or jazz music perform in various bands and ensembles.

Students are provided with multiple opportunities to perform at YCIS Beijing. Concerts are held in December and June each year to showcase the learning that occurs within the classroom program as well as ensembles. Additional opportunities are also provided – including this year’s ISTA Festival hosted by YCIS Beijing, and currently the Musician in Residence teaching students traditional Chinese drumming techniques. This will culminate in a drumming performance for Year 3 students during the June concert.

Congratulations to these young musicians again, and hope you continue to love music and keep practicing.

 

BY XING YANGJIAN

 

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