Education Insight| Unlock Potential through Artistic Creation

Although no one knows for sure, it is believed that Confucius spoke these words For me, these are words that have always resonated as a musician and as an educator of music and performing arts. To only tell or show a pupil music, drama or dance is insufficient to say the least. To truly understand, a pupil must be involved in the creation of the art form. This is not about talent. It is about education. Every child and every adult is a creative being and has the innate ability to produce something meaningful. It is our job as educators to provide the opportunity for a pupil to discover that ability within themselves.

Participating in the arts offers another incredible opportunity. It helps pupils to understand and internalize the fact that our individual efforts, no matter what level our ability from beginner to advanced, can raise up an entire group to become something bigger and more harmonious than we ever imagined possible. To involve as many pupils in music as possible, we have  created an orchestra in school. On the first day of our orchestra rehearsal, it became clear that we had a group of pupils with a large range of abilities, but not necessarily pupils who had the same level of knowledge about music. Some pupils had played and studied an instrument for many years. Some pupils had never studied music but had parents that wished them to experience it. We had more than 10 pupils that played the same instrument (piano) and only a few that played an actual orchestral instrument. This presented an incredible challenge to us as teachers. How would we take this group and manage to create a harmonious whole?

As musicians, however, we know that there is always a way to bring together a group. . We decided to utilize a set of tone chimes, pitched percussion instruments and the instrumental skills of our flutists, clarinetist, cellists and violinists to create an all-levels orchestra. The results were remarkable. At first, pupils were doubtful. They were more interested in showing off their individual skill on the instrument that they had studied, and much less interested in playing a smaller part so that everyone could work together. As we continued to meet, learn, adjust and experimenta spark of creativity was lit. Two pupils who had no musical instrument experience and did not think they could perform in an ensemble suddenly found themselves part of a musical group. Their excitement was palpable as they stepped into their musical roles.

Today nearly 200 pupils took the stage in many different configurations, from a 70-person choir to rock bands to drama groups and yes, our all-levels orchestra. Families were invited to come and witness the results. The audience will see focus, creativity, diligence and, most importantly, the joy of creation. The performing arts may be an ephemeral experience when performing, but the benefits last a lifetime.

Studying music and the performing arts has the unique ability to deeply engage pupils in learning while simultaneously developing habits of excellence such as perseverance, collaboration, problem-solving, communication, self-assessment and creativity. At Huili School Hangzhou, all pupils garner a strong foundation of music knowledge, individual instrumental and vocal skills, and the ability to work successfully (and hopefully joyfully) in an ensemble where it is the responsibility of each individual to hone their skills and create something greater for the whole.

Our Winter Performance is just one example of our daily work and will showcase the values of Huili School Hangzhou. In addition to enjoying a wide variety of performances, the audiences will also witness the pupil’s courage, respect, integrity, kindness and responsibility. This is an accomplishment in which everyone can take pride.