I believe that the best teachers remain fascinated by the subject that they teach throughout their professional lives. Therefore, all of our music teachers at MIS are practicing performers, or composers, in their own right.’ Says John Wright, our Director of Performing Arts.
John was born near Liverpool and developed a passion for music at an early age. He was 10 before he had the opportunity to take piano lessons, but his enthusiasm helped him to make up for lost time and he progressed quickly. At 15, he auditioned for a government scholarship to attend Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, where he studied piano and theory with some of the most renowned music teachers in UK. From there, he went to read music at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He won two academic prizes and a full scholarship to pursue post graduate study at the University of London, maintaining his piano practice and performing life throughout this time. In the UK, John has performed at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, The Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, and at many other venues.
At the Cambridge Asia-Alumni gathering in HK 2018
After a brief period at the BBC, John realised that music can only seriously enhance a person’s life if they develop some understanding of it through education. Teaching in some outstanding schools in the UK, John then moved to China, a country whose people and culture had always interested him.
After a concert in Bangkok, 2018
As a performer, John has held recitals in Hong Kong (City Hall, Central), Singapore (Chinese Cultural Theatre) and in Bangkok, where he played for the Prime Minister, ambassadors of the USA and several European countries, and the Director of The Royal Thai Opera. Most recently, he was invited to perform solo for the most recent Asia alumni gathering by the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University in Hong Kong.
Usually, at the start of the academic year, our music teachers come together in The Castle Hall to perform for our students and their parents to inspire these young people to aim for the highest standards in music, or to take up an instrument from scratch. Of course, this assembly was not possible this year, so some of our music teachers have brought their skills online. You can read a little about their careers and personal qualities, and you can hear some of them perform by clicking on the links next to the photos.
Herbert Yonathan is an Indonesian-born pianist, chorale conductor, composer and music arranger, as well as music educator. As a pianist, Yonathan has performed in Europe, China and in many other Asian countries. As a choir conductor, Yonathan’s choirs have been honoured by both the Indonesian President and the Thai Royal Family as special guest performers. Tim Brown (director of Claire College Choir, Cambridge) has described Yonathan’s performance as‘pure in tone quality, soulful, fresh and delightful’. His choir has performed on national TV in Indonesia. As a versatile composer, arranger and song writer, Yonathan has composed and arranged almost 70 musical works. These include solo piano transcriptions, choral arrangements, solo vocal and instrumental pieces and music for dance. In China, he premiered his composition “Chinese Folk Tunes Medley”in the I-City Suzhou TV to critical acclaim. Wibi Soerjadi, the prominent Dutch pianist and composer, described the piece as‘truly original and creative, nothing more to add…just listen and enjoy’. Yonathan enjoys sharing his love of music and energy with students at MIS.
John completed his BA Hons in English Literature at the University of Wales and later went on to earn an MSc in Computing from Oxford Brookes University. He has worked for twenty years as a Software Engineer in Oxford’s startup community, running his own business for 12 years as a consultant to businesses such as Solid State Logic, McDonald’s and Tesco. John worked in a recording studio in Wales for some years and played in a variety of rock bands there. He is a guitarist and bass player, as well as an enthusiastic recording engineer. In his spare time, he writes and records music.
Shirley Zheng was raised in Shenzhen and started playing the piano at the age of seven. She began teaching piano during her undergraduate years before furthering her studies in London, graduating with an MA in Music from the renowned Goldsmiths College, University of London. Upon graduation, she joined Dulwich International High School (Zhuhai) and then graduated with a PGCEI from the University of Nottingham before completed a level one Orff music course in Melbourne. She enjoys classical music, as well as the musicals of the West End and Broadway. When not teaching or performing, her interest in travelling, as well as learning different languages keeps her busy. During her travels, she loves communicating with the locals in their native tongue as she picks up the many colourful cultures around the world.
Aria completed her Bachelors degree in Music Education at Ningbo University and later studied for a Master’s degree in Music Education at the University of York. After graduating from Ningbo University Aria became a music teacher in a training institution, responsible for teaching students to play piano and sing. During that time Aria successfully held several teacher-student concerts. During her UK study she devoted herself to one-on-one vocal teaching, adopting various teaching methods to stimulate the students’ potential and help them acquire knowledge and skills. Aria enjoys reading, especially books related to music education. Aria hopes to make continuous progress and become a lifelong learner.
Cory Shen graduated with a first class honours degree from the prestigious King's College London (KCL) specialising in piano performance and musicology. The programme at King's College is unique - it is here where he regularly attended private tuitions and masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music, considered the top music conservatory in Europe. It is during this time he studied with the prominent Australian pianist, Olivia Sham who continues to be an excellent mentor. Following his time in London, Mr Shen pursued a Masters degree at the University of Leeds specialising in Music and Management. Whilst continuing to hone his musical skills, Mr. Shen became adept in business literature and management skills. A personal highlight was to be on the management team of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition, a top tier musical event held every three years. In addition to performing and business, Mr Shen has taught piano to students of all ages with extensive experience teaching the ABRSM Curriculum and the Central Chinese Exam Board of piano literature. Mr Shen now resides in the technological hub of Shenzhen where he performs regularly as soloist, chamber musician and as accompanist. Mr.Shen is currently an Artistic Director of Star Bright Choir, Shenzhen.
Lin graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a Master’s degree in music. During her stay in the US, she studied with Lynn Chang, the renowned violinist and educator. Meantime, she participated in music festivals to accumulate performing experiences with the coaching of Markus Placci, Joseph Silversterin, Janet Sung, etc. Between 2015 and 2016, Lin served as an orchestral player in the Boston Civic Symphony and the Boston Chamber Symphony. From 2017 - 2018, in the Youth Music Culture Guangdong (YMCG), she played with famous musicians including Yo Yo Ma, Michael Stern and the Silk Road Ensemble. She joined the New World Chamber Players in 2018 and became a coach for the Poly String Summer Camp (Shenzhen). As a violin teacher, Lin was invited to start string sections for schools and to cultivate young players for orchestras. She has assisted many of her students to achieve excellent results in competitions and examinations.
连续参加2017年（首届）、2018年（第二届）广东国际青年音乐周 Youth Music Culture Guangdong (YMCG)，与马友友、Michael Stern，以及丝绸之路乐团Silk Road Ensemble的音乐家们同台演出。
受邀为多所院校及乐团组建弦乐声部、培养少年乐手，学生遍布于包括Western Australian Youth Ochestra（澳洲）、Asian-American Youth Symphony Orchestra（美国）等中外青少年交响乐团。
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Yinnan Hong graduated from Jiamusi University. In 2005, he attended the China Conservatory of Music to study further. As a teacher in the College of Music of Jiamusi University and Heilongjiang Agricultural Reclamation Vocational College, many of his students were admitted to Tianjin Conservatory of Music, Shenyang Conservatory of Music. Currently, he serves as the judge of the external examination of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the conductor of the wind orchestra of Shuiwei Primary School in Futian District.
Yaxin Jing graduated from Guangxi Normal University, majoring in Music Education. She has studied the Guzheng for 22 years since she was four and a half years old. She studied with Ge Liu from Wuhan Conservatory of Music, Sa Wang from Hunan Normal University and Xuelin Liu from Guangxi Normal University. Since 2016, Yaxin has been a Guzheng teacher and the leader of Guzheng ensemble of Qinyuntianxia Communication Co., LTD. Between 2015 and 2016, she served as a music teacher in Fengji Primary School of Guilin.
WeiPeng Liu previously served as the assistant principal of the cello section in the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra during 2016–2019.
As the Jacobs Scholarship recipient at the Indiana University, Liu completed a Masters degree studying with world-renowed cellist Janos Starker. In May 2012, he received an Artist Diploma at Yale University under tutelage of Professor Aldo Parisot.
During 2015-2016, Liu served as the instructor of Cello in Arkansas State University, as well as serving as the co-principal of the Cello section in the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, TN; at the same time pursued as the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Memphis.
Bijun Mao graduated from Xinghai Conservatory of Music in violin. In 2009, she joined the Guangdong Pearl River Symphony Orchestra. During 2013, Bijun studied Art in France and the Netherlands for exchanges before collaborating with Jose Carreras, one of the world's most famous opera singers (one of the original ‘Three Tenors’). In 2015, she participated in the performance of the "Lang Lang National Music Dream Tour" Shenzhen Station and represented Guangdong Province in Canada. In 2016, in Peru, she played at the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Peru. Bijun is currently the principal second violin in the Guangdong Pearl River Symphony Orchestra.
Hugo has been learning the Guqin in Zhuoying Pavilion with Mr Jian Li who is the renowned Guqin performer’s disciple.
Hugo enjoys all Chinese classical culture and music. In 2018, he won the provincial first prize in one national writing competition for the essay Methodology of Study in classic Chinese.
In 2018, Hugo received a full scholarship to study in MIS. In the same year, he studied with Mr John Wright western music which includes theory, composing and performing.
In 2019, Hugo established the Lu Ming Chinese Music Group in MIS. He also arranges and conducts many pieces which are performed at our events. Zang Hua Yin, Chun Jiang Hua Yue Ye and Jiang Shang Qing Feng You. In 2020, invited by our Head of school Mr Andrew Hunter, Hugo began his internship as TA in MIS for one year after graduating. He is an inspiring figure in Chinese music and culture to our students at MIS.
To seasoned education professionals right across the world, the fact that students who take music seriously at school are invariably among the highest academic achievers, comes as no surprise. This phenomenon has been studied extensively over the last 40 years. Practicing music causes the brain to develop in ways that no other activity can.
Mr Wright suggests a simpler reason for the academic success of musical students. ‘When I came to revise for my own A Levels, I found that I was used to concentrating hard for extended periods and to absorbing information very efficiently in preparation for a single event on which a lot depended, because I had taken music seriously for many years before. To that extent, preparing for a performance is very similar to preparing for an academic exam.’
In an instrumental lesson, students are asked to perform physical actions that are extremely unnatural at first. Only by persistence and patience can a person master a difficult passage of music and soon, the passage becomes easier to play and the music emerges. There is no other way. As is similar in learning a mathematical formula or a grammatical structure. Musicians are used to slow, patient practice, to not giving up when things do not come easily, and to prepare so thoroughly that they can perform when the pressure is on. What better habits can a student develop than these?
Our rotating music timetable at MIS ensures that no single subject lesson is missed more than once per term. Even in the short term, any negative impact of this arrangement is utterly negligible. In the long term, at MIS and at schools right across the world, students prove that music pays back the investment of time and effort that they make, many times over. We note, most recently that 6 out of 7 members of our highly successful school debating team are also members of the Seniors Choir.