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A Tale of Two Cities – Spotlight on Vietnam

20 January 2017

  • Hoc-sinh-choi-violin|BVIS-Hanoi
  • Hoc-sinh-choi-guitar|BVIS-Hanoi

One-term in, we are delighted to highlight the excellent practice happening in two of our schools in Vietnam.  These two schools are extremely different in their intake, curriculum and music department faculty but have both shown fantastic progress in their implementation of the Programme to date.

British Vietnamese International School, Hanoi – Sue Pogson

Now in its fourth year, BVIS offers a bicultural curriculum to students between the ages of 2 and 18.  In Primary half the day is taught in English, the other half in Vietnamese and in Secondary the Vietnamese focus continues with Vietnamese language, literature and history taught alongside the British curriculum.  Despite being only the second year with a specialist music department, students are already studying for IGCSE music with numbers up many-fold for the academic year 2017-18.  Operating across two campuses, BVIS has one qualified full time music teacher, teaching curriculum music from years 3 to 10 (age 7-15) and a second teacher working with years 1 and 2 (age 5-7).

In only two years we have established a diverse and constantly growing extra-curricular programme, with lessons offered in woodwind, brass, orchestral strings, guitar and percussion and a fledgling instrumental ensemble soon to spread its wings and debut in the beginners’ concert.  In addition, we have student generated rock bands and event-focused choirs including singers (presently around 140 students with more on the way) who are preparing for the Global Campus global virtual choir.  Last term the whole school from year one to year 12 as well as teachers and TAs roared out ‘Fix You’ in celebration of International Day of Peace and as a bicultural school, we merged rock musicians with Vietnamese drummers to accompany the song.  This year’s school musical was enhanced by music composed by students themselves.  High standard music competitions have showcased advanced students whilst an inclusive approach within and beyond the curriculum makes music accessible to all. Juilliard Programme at BVIS, Hanoi: In class, the curated repertoire on the Juilliard Creative Classroom has encouraged and enabled our children to think like musicians and inspired their creative imaginations.

Ligeti: Many of our Primary children are still developing English language skills and so expressing their ideas and thoughts about music is a challenge!  They learned about timbre in Ligeti’s Bagatelle, and the careful presentation of musical ideas has really helped them access the music.  ‘Timbre’ is a dry word but the children independently translated it into colour, when listening to the solo lines, they saw the oboe as red and the flute, yellow.  Then, I played the flute/oboe extract.  A collective indrawn breath, a pause, and almost the whole class shouted ‘ORANGE!’  The children devised, thanks to the nature of the extracts, a way that they could understand, and express the complex and abstract concept of timbre. 

Sean Shepherd’s work has also had a great impact on our students - in particular regarding the relationship between sound, picture and movement.  This has been especially beneficial when students compose themselves – they reach out from harmonic logic into abstract design and make their music heartfelt.

Visiting Juilliard Alumni give our students a fascinating insight into the world of the professional musician.  The friendly yet inspiring approach of Paul Murphy (our curriculum coordinator) encourage our children to ‘think like musicians’.  I look forward to witnessing the continued impact of the Juilliard programme on BVIS, Hanoi.

Ms Susan Pogson - Music Teacher