Spectacular Strings! YCIS Beijing’s Primary Violin Programme
This term, Years 1-3 put on a fantastic show for families and staff at the Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Primary Violin Concert. As always, the standard was very high owing to our unique violin programme. We speak to our violin teachers Aili Ai 艾丽 and Cindy Guo 郭晓霞 about the programme and the benefits of learning violin from a young age.
Please introduce the YCIS Beijing violin programme
All students at YCIS Beijing start learning the violin from Year 1. In fact, we introduce violin a little earlier for our eldest ECE children who receive their first lessons in the final term of kindergarten. Our students have at least two violin classes a week – with the option of additional classes before school if they wish. The violin programme remains a core part of the curriculum throughout Primary, with students then having the option to continue into Secondary school.
Our programme is based on the Suzuki method, developed by Dr Shinichi Suzuki, and now practised worldwide. We also supplement the programme with other pedagogies, terminologies and learning methods from a range of sources that we find to be effective.
The programme has all sorts of purposes which contribute towards the musical, academic, physical and social development of our students. But first and foremost, the purpose of teaching violin is to introduce children to the delight and satisfaction of making music. Our hope is always that we draw out a passion for music that will motivate our students to continue playing their whole lives, and to cultivate a sense of aesthetic appreciation that will enrich their world.
Why do we start teaching our children at such an early age?
Learning the violin is like learning a foreign language – the earlier you start a child, the greater their advantage. They will have more time to perfect technique, and will be more finely tuned to pitch, phrasing, rhythm etc.
There is also a range of positive effects that children can benefit from when they are still young. For example, learning an instrument develops memory skills, creativity, patience and concentration, and co-ordination and motor skills. Being able to play and hear music also helps children express themselves and their emotions.
What do you find particularly rewarding about teaching violin at YCIS Beijing?
Firstly, it is a great pleasure to be able to ignite a spark in our students – to give the gift of music-making and draw out a love for the subject.
Sometimes students find violin very hard and feel discouraged, but we always support them and push them to keep trying. It is priceless when our students turn their feelings of doubt and frustration into satisfaction and pride. We really live for those moments.
Why is the concert an important part of the programme?
The concert is a very important part of our violin programme. It is the highlight of the year for students who love the excitement of performing. It’s also essential to give purpose to all the hard work and hours that students put in to their instrument and for sharing this fantastic achievement with parents and families. There’s always a great atmosphere at the concert, and it’s great for families and staff to see the very high standard of our young musicians.
What advice would you offer to students learning the violin?
Firstly, never give up! Learning an instrument is hard, it requires a lot of patience and concentration – but if you put the time and effort in, the reward is great.
Secondly, practice slowly! Take time to get things right and be thorough.
Finally, parents – do whatever you can to motivate your child. Celebrate their achievements, praise them for practicing and take an interest in their instrument.