26 Aug, 2016
10 : 00
With the commencement of the Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s 2016-17 academic year, the school has welcomed a number of new teaching professionals to further enhance the learning experience of students. We spoke with the new ECE and Primary School music teacher Anne Dwyer on the the role that music plays at YCIS Beijing and in the lives of our students.
Where are you from and how did you come to Beijing?
I am from Melbourne, Australia, and came to Beijing with my husband, Don Collins. Don is also working at YCIS as the Vice Principal, Senior School.
Where does your passion for music come from?
I have always loved music! I remember learning the piano and happily playing the same music over and over again until my mother would kindly ask me to play something else. Being able to share your love of music with students is an absolute privilege.
Tell us about your role at YCIS.
I am the ECE and Junior School music teacher, teaching all ECE and Years 1 – 5 children for classroom music. I will also be taking the Year 7 choir and will be involved in rehearsals for the School Musical. As part of the Performing Arts Department, I will be working with others to develop an integrated program.
Could you describe the music programme for students in Primary?
The Primary music programme at YCIS is very comprehensive. A range of teaching methods are employed to provide students with a programme that develops core skills. The strings program provides students with an invaluable start to their music education. The classroom music programme uses an extensive selection of musical instruments and singing is also included at all year levels. Add dance and drama offerings for the older Primary year levels, and it is clear that YCIS Performing Arts programme provides students with lots of opportunities to be curious and to learn through creating and performing.
How does learning the violin benefit students?
Access to a strings (violin) program provides students with an excellent foundation for music education. Here, students develop a sense of pitch and learn core elements of music – they also have the opportunity to perform with others. The benefits of the violin program extend beyond music. Howard Gardner, who has heavily influenced education in recent decades, talks about the importance of the disciplined mind, stating that is takes up to ten years to master a discipline. This involves students learning how to work steadily over time to improve their skills and understandings. It is terrific to know that the YCIS violin programme adopts such an approach.
Why do you think music education is important for all students?
Beyond helping develop a disciplined approach to learning, music education provides an opportunity to learn through doing. This is more than simply singing or playing instruments: the philosophy and objectives of YCIS can also be taught. For example, in the Performing Arts classroom, multiple intelligences are developed through a curriculum that involves musical, visual, verbal, logical, bodily, interpersonal and intrapersonal awareness and skills. A caring attitude towards the performing arts environment is also required. Cultural diversity is encouraged through the selection of music and dance from different cultures, which in turn allows our international students to share and celebrate different cultures and languages.
Any tips for parents who want their children to learn about music?
Most children will ask to learn a musical instrument at some stage. I would encourage this! There are several things to consider when choosing the correct instrument. You need to think about your space at home – do you have room for your child to practice each day? Learning the drums can seem exciting, but a drum kit takes up a lot of space and you need to think about your neighbours. Similarly, if your child is to learn the cello, double bass or harp, you need to have a vehicle that is large enough to carry the instrument to and from music lessons and performances. You can also speak with your child’s music teacher about the instrument they are interested in to see if there seems to be a good match between the child and the requirements of the instrument. (For example, drums require good hand and foot co-ordination, string instruments require a sense of pitch, double reed instruments require good breathing skills.)
We couldn’t be happier to welcome such a dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring teacher into the YCIS Beijing community. We wish Ms Dwyer all the best in the coming year!
Be sure to keep an eye on YCIS Beijing’s news page for regular updates on what’s happening around the school community!