This series is divided into three parts under the themes of sports, leadership, and the arts. This is part one of the series. As the graduating class of 2017 bids farewell to family and friends, they have come full circle and share their experiences and advice for younger students.
Behind every great artist, there’s a great teacher, and many of those performers and creative types are quick to thank their mentors and educators — from actors like Kerry Washington to legendary singers like Patti LaBelle and more. We might one day hear some of the stars of tomorrow giving the same credit to their teachers at Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), seeing that this British international school in China brings such strong programmes to nurture budding talents.
The school knows that starting early is key to igniting a passion in talented students. That means even their youngest students (18 months to 3 years) have a specialist music teacher in their class every week. In Year 3 (7 years old), students kick things off with a recorder and ukulele then move to wind and strings instruments.
There are also over 100 music and drama events, art exhibitions, and artists’ visits (VPN required) in an academic year that provide pupils with the opportunities to hone their skills based on DCB’s philosophy of student-led projects.
We spoke to three students, Flemming L., who has been at the school for six years, Simone Z., who has been at the school for eight years, and Tristen W., who has spent his entire academic life at the school.
The three talented Year 13 (Grade 12) students share their background and reasons for pursuing their creative paths.
Flemming: My interest is in music, especially piano and choirs. I started playing at a really young age and my parents just really urged me to move on. They really told how important it was to have one skill that you are really good at. Over the years I have discovered my talent in music over many other subjects so I continued on this road.
Simone: When I was younger I used to love drawing and my parents encouraged that. They sent me to sketching classes, typical kinds of art related classes and I chose to continue to take art at school at GCSE through [to]IB.
Tristen: I didn’t have a passion for music until I was a teenager. That’s when I started to fall in love with music in general because I have been actively listening to different kinds of music.
Here are some of the benefits the students have experienced.
Flemming: I have met many great musicians and fellow students like Tristen. I also built really good relationships with every music teacher I have had.
Simone: For me, pursuing art is cathartic at times and it’s very different, the arts and performing arts, from your other subjects. Being able to take that class many times a week gives you a release from the typical mathematical, science subjects.
Tristen: Definitely my social skills [improved]. I remember when I was small, I was a really closed [off]person. Then, when I got into music and started to attend a lot of the events at school, I was able to open up myself a bit more and communicate with more people. That helped me make more friends.
The students have projects that they are most proud of accomplishing.
Flemming: The project I’m most proud of is an oral class for junior school students that I initiated and am the only teacher of. There’s this external music exam called the ABRSM and it includes a section called oral. I started this project because I benefitted from this system from a really young age and I wanted to help more junior school students prepare for it. I knew that a lot of students at DCB would be taking ABRSM exams. I started this project in Year 12 as part of my CAS project but after CAS ended I found it really interesting so I kept on offering it.
Simone: The teachers gave me license to decorate and refurbish our Common IB room last year. I solicited photographs from fellow students in the IB programme. I was quite proud of the final result because it proved to me that art doesn’t have to be something only critics look at, it could be something students and everyone can appreciate.
Tristen: I’m really proud of the composition arrangement that I wrote for a songwriter/producer. I’m not exactly proud of the project itself but because it marks the beginning of my musical career.
Flemming: Northwestern University
Simone: Brown University
Tristen: Berklee College of Music
Words of advice.
Flemming: Grab all the opportunities you can get. You can get something meaningful out of everything you do. There’s no such thing as a waste of time; you can learn even from the smallest thing.
Tristen: For someone with a strong passion, [try]not be too desperate to reach it [success]. Once you are too desperate you lack the experience and head into things without knowing much.
Simone: Fake it until you make it! I think the key to improving and increasing your ability is to have the confidence that you can do something and throw yourself at it until you get better.
This post is paid for by DCB.
Photos: Courtesy of DCB and Uni You