Growing Internationalisation of Music Teaching

Talented professors Liu Yang and Xu Tuo visited the Royal Danish Academy of Music to teach master classes to students and perform at China Day.

Music Confucius Institute recently had the opportunity to speak with guitar virtuoso, performer, and professor, Xu Tuo. Xu Tuo, professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, visited the Royal Danish Academy of Music to teach lessons and master classes with guitar students, as well as perform with Scandinavian Guitar Duo at China Day on 29 September.

Xu Tuo expressed that between Chinese music and Western music, he perceives differences in the systems that set up the musical culture. “With Chinese music,” he said, “It is based on a different culture, connected to Chinese opera and language. It’s a very big question.” He discussed differences in culture from Chinese students to students he has met in Denmark.

In China, musicians often begin learning music at a very young age. With a lifetime of experience, and a culture of discipline, they can strongly improve their abilities as they get older. However, Xu Tuo perceives more of a difference in teaching different ability levels than teaching students from different countries. His greatest challenge when teaching students is finding a way to improve their skills without simply telling them what to do. “You want to inspire them and give them new ideas. It is easy to just tell them what to do, but you want to keep their personality,” said Tuo.

Associate Professor Liu Yang’s teaching experience with Danish and Chinese students

Trombone player Liu Yang is the Associate Professor of trombone and master tutor at Central Conservatory of Music, as well as Director of Brass Teaching Research Office of CCOM. Like Xu Tuo, he visited the Royal Danish Academy of Music to hold master classes with students, and also conduct the RDAM trombone ensemble at China Day. He discussed the experience of teaching students in Denmark.

When asked about the differences between teaching students in China and students in Denmark, Liu Yang relayed that many students here are in ensembles and groups, so it is more about learning how to work with a particular group than necessarily working with Danish versus Chinese students. Furthermore, some of the students have visited China before, giving them a background for a discussion of music and culture.

Liu Yang also studied and worked in Germany for many years, so he has an extensive background of working with an international student population. He enjoys helping students develop their talents, in order to advance their careers. “The final teaching objective is to help them join an orchestra,” said Liu Yang.

Overall, he sees music culture today as very international: international competitions and festivals take place, European artists are invited to CCOM, and professors at the Royal Danish Academy of Music come from all around the world. Due to this multiculturalism and collaboration between different music schools, Liu Yang says that teaching and performing here in Denmark does not feel like a completely different landscape.