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DRAGON BITESSTRINGS PROGRAMThey Call Him Mr. Yby DragonTales StaffAPRIL 25, 2022 - 3 MIN READIt’s Tuesday morning, and as our primary students arrive at campus and cross the bridge to the Upper Primary (UP), a group of students branch off to drop their instruments in the 5/F music hallway before heading up to their classrooms. On this particular day of the week, Beginner Violin will meet after school, followed by Advanced and Intermediate Viola and Bass. There is some chatter about practice forms and whether 400 minutes of practice was achieved this month. They knew their forms would be under scrutiny by their strict, but beloved, strings teacher. A student practices plucking in an Upper Primary strings class, 2018.Meidad Yehudayan, a native of Israel and an accomplished soloist and chamber musician, performed and taught around the world before focusing his time and talent on inspiring young musicians at HKIS. They call him Mr. Y, and he has shepherded the Upper Primary strings program for over two decades.
The Upper Primary strings program is one of three music programs in high demand at HKIS when you enter third grade. Students can choose to learn an instrument in band or strings, or hone their voices with the choir. Although these music programs are after school activities at this early age, the program feeds directly into the Middle and High School academic programs. While the primary objective for many parents is for their child to learn a musical instrument, the main feature of the program is the opportunity to play or sing in an ensemble.
To Mr. Y, this program is all about inspiring young musicians to love their instrument, to learn the value of practice, and to achieve a beautiful sound together. Students come into the program at all levels. Some having played the violin since they were toddlers are placed into the advanced class, while complete beginners pluck their instruments for a full three months before receiving their bows. Each semester, the different groups perform separately with a different repertoire reflecting their level, but the pride in what they achieve is equal all around. Smiling strings students! “...the rush of hitting the final note in concert and hearing the burst of applause from the audience is like no other experience. The magic of creating music, collaborating in concert, and surviving the grit of practice are the key ingredients of our performing arts program. In addition to running the UP program, Meidad also teaches and conducts the High School orchestra, where many of his students began their strings career in earlier years with him. Each season, Meidad invites his UP classes to the High School concerts in hopes of inspiring these budding musicians. Dressed in formal tails to conduct his accomplished High School orchestra, Meidad greets his younger students in the foyer, asking them to sign in to claim extra “practice minutes”. The usually strict teacher’s eyes sparkle as he encourages his students to enjoy the performance.
Meidad takes great pride in selecting music that the students would enjoy playing, including Disney songs and even popular anthems like “The Final Countdown”. In the weeks leading up to the year-end performance, tensions heighten, and students take their jobs very seriously. The emotional high and relieved smiles at the end of a concert are evident as students meet up with their parents to take photos. The musical journey from third grade to graduation is filled with the usual grind of finding time to practice, getting through difficult passages, fixing tempo and rhythms, and repairing broken strings. But the rush of hitting the final note in concert and hearing the burst of applause from the audience is like no other experience. The magic of creating music, collaborating in concert, and surviving the grit of practice are the key ingredients of our performing arts program. And with the upcoming changes to the music program, this musical journey will evolve.
In August 2022, Meidad will move to the Middle School strings program, replacing long-time strings teacher Rondecca Kam. He will continue to teach High School strings and build transitions from Middle to High School for our strings students. The Upper Primary after-school strings program will be led by Micra Music, the innovative music provider that supports HKIS's current Upper Primary band program. The long-time partner of HKIS has plans for creating more ensemble opportunities, developing repertoire for a wider range of skill levels, and fostering a passion for music that will continue beyond Upper Primary. “Micra Music is thrilled to be at the beginning of this phenomenal adventure HKIS students will take as they journey through the school's highly acclaimed strings and wind program. Our goal is develop students' passions and then prepare them for the music program in Middle School.”
Micra MusicMr. Y's UP strings class getting ready to make music!Take a bow, Ms. Kam!Many thanks to Ms. Rondecca Kam for her 18 years of service to the Middle School strings program! To hear more about some of the innovation in the program, listen to the Dragonwaves podcast below.