Dear teachers and students in the Department of Music, and anyone who aspires to this field,
The Department of Music of National Chiayi University(NCYU) is a quite unique place.
I still remember the first time I came to Minxiong Campus of NCYU seven years ago. When I arrived at the campus after a long trip from Taipei, the magnificent campus with greenery came into view which made me, a Taipei citizen who had lived in concrete jungle for years, feel relaxed in a split second. It is still my best tip for comforting my mind to wander through the boulevard and meditate beside the Goose Lake. Moreover, after being closely associated with students of National Chiayi University, I feel that children in NCYU have a kind of special temperament ── they are unsophisticated and still cultured. They can be literate, athletic and also cooperative. What kind of learning environment can cultivate this kind of temperament? In the following paragraphs, I am going to elaborate on it through what I’ve observed in the department.
The living philosophy of the Department of Music ── Do it Yourself
Here, students have to be versatile so that they can live easily and even study as a duck takes to water.
Ever since they join this big family, everyone not only has to face the musical training which are required in every department of music such as sing and performing skill training, ensemble training, professional music theory and humanities accomplishment, but also has to learn to do many things by him/herself ── from daily chores to all kinds of administration; from self-discipline to professional teamwork. Children are required to do everything by themselves in this environment. Basically, children who are used to be served with delicate disposition cannot adopt to this place. This is the unique secret of Department of Music, you cannot find it elsewhere.
The Department of Music is located in Minxiong, a rustic township which is far away from noise and convenience of the city. Therefore, students who leave their family and comfort zone for the first time need to find a way to live by themselves right away. Also, teachers always require students particularly to actively assist in the running of the department. Hence, students need to take care of many things, from daily group food procurement in Minxiong to preparing for various activities and the graduation performance of the department. Unconsciously, they form an active and effective group centering on student association of the Department of Music. They learn how to live, how to do things right and how to get along with others. All students have close-knit relationships between each other. The competitive atmosphere and self-centered habits, which are common in peers of the musical departments, would not show up conspicuously; they would be odd even if they show up occasionally.
Every year I watch these students teaming up with each other every year for the annual musical which is the grand performance of the department. They produce the musicals by themselves, practice singing and dancing, make stage props and costumes personally, put on makeup for actors and execute the administration work of the stage professionally. While the show is ongoing, stagehands are so fascinated by the performance on the stage, and beam sincerely. It is a lovely scene. Students of National Chiayi University are pure and simple, which are really touching characteristics.
So, one after another year, students learn to comply with the unique rules, get used to the culture here and fall in love with this place. They grow up firmly and truly here, leaving their comfort zone and becoming stronger through a wide variety of environment in order to face the real challenges in the society.
The Learning Concept of the Department of Music, NCYU── Crossover‧Flipping‧Wholesomeness
Then, what kind of learning environment is it? In 2018, we are going to have a new milestone of curriculums. However, the breakthrough
s is based on the foundation on which we spent a lot of efforts. Basically, the concept that students need to have Interdisciplinary Learning and put what they’ve learned to use, which teaching revolution places great emphasis on nowadays, is what we have already applied long time ago. Before introducing the coming new scale of curriculums, which we are about to apply, let us review the professional teaching scale which was built step by step since the establishment in 1992 and the integration and reformation in 2000 with gratitude.
In Retrospect with Gratitude
National Chiayi Teachers College set a department as "Music Education Department" in 1992, which was the predecessor of the Department of Music. National Chiayi University (NCYU) was formed in 2000 by merging the National Chiayi Institute of Technology (NCIT) and National Chiayi Teachers College (NCTC) with long history. National Chiayi University become the comprehensive university which has longest history and biggest scale in Yunlin County, Chiayi City and Chiayi County. It was the time when the Department of Music, National Chiayi University was officially formed. The teaching, service and performance quality of the Department of Music earned recognition from Ministry of Education in 2006 and was approved to set up “Graduate School of Music and Performing Arts”. Further, we reformed the department through the merge system of the university and integrated the Graduate School of the Music and the Department of the Music. It combines the attribute of arts and humanities and the science. The Department of the Music stands on the land which our predecessors devoted themselves to working on. We are also aware of that we have great ability to break new ground for musical culture in Yunlin and Chiayi area.
Since this department was set up, with the all-out effort of previous chairpersons, teachers and students, we have established the curriculum, equipment and strong international teaching group which are essential to a professional classical music department. Furthermore, our performance group such as orchestra, wind band and chorus are also well-known around Chiayi and nationwide. They perform abroad for several times and then become the music ambassador of NCYU. On this basis, we have had musical performances since 2001. For the last 18 years, we’ve performed the classical musical which is officially authorized by Broadway every year. We also established NCYU Musical Troupe so that students can broaden their professional horizons and skill through this platform of performing arts. In 2008, we continued to hire jazz experts to set up the first Jazz orchestra in the music department of university in Taiwan, which expand our cultural perspective and make the courses more diversified.
In addition to music performance and composition, academic research is also what we’ve been focusing on for years. The Department of Music, NCYU holds seminars regularly, which are mainly organized by teachers and students of graduate school. From “Art of Music and The Cultural and Creative Industries Seminar” in early years, to “Forum on Living Musical Cultures in Taiwan”, which has been held every other year since 2012, are well received by many Taiwanese and foreign friends. Until now, it is the fourth time since Forum on Living Musical Cultures in Taiwan has been held. It not only brings a new creative power to the art and culture field of south Taiwan, but also becomes the core which teachers and students in the graduate school to gel their coherence and professionalism.
Looking Forward to Future with Joy
After finding our feet, we are moving on toward another different scale and horizon now. The whole curriculum design of The Department of Music is going to move on to a new stage, which will be the cross-disciplinary program, in 2018. After thinking and planning thoroughly, we design a set of crossover program “Training Program of Universal Elites in Art Industries” with a grand view. This program will focus on “Musical” and “Musical Production Program”, the former is an integrated form of performing arts that we’ve been operated successfully for more than a decade, it is a crossover program which includes all kinds of art skills; the latter is a program that is developed by following the concept of curriculum tracking and modularization. There is a more specific introduction about “Training Program of Universal Elites in Art Industries” and “Crouse Map” in our website. The following content will give a brief explanation about the curriculum design concept of curriculum tracking, the second program, localization and globalization.
Since 2017, in order to respond to the teaching concept of curriculum tracking at NCYU, the Department of Music has redesigned the whole curriculum based on the concept of modularization. We divide the curriculum into three main programs: “Music Performance Program”, “Music Teaching Program” and “Musical Production Program”. The reason we modularize the courses is to encourage students to make good use of the resources in NCYU. The purpose of interdisciplinary learning of second specialty is to encourage students to apply what they learn. Among three main programs, “Music Performance Program” and “Music Teaching Program” are the cornerstone of all professional trainings, and “Musical Production Program” requires students to apply skills they have been trained for a long time and bring it to the market. Our implementation strategy is to enforce and expand the teaching effect through various innovative teaching methods. Ultimately, we would like to cultivate artists with integration ability, and we expect that it could help students become more competitive while looking for jobs after graduation.
In a nutshell, in the future, our curriculum plan will focus on crossover integration particularly. We will promote elective courses about “Musical Production Program” and introduce teachers with professional capability in art industry and international teachers. We hope that in addition to train students about skills and theory, they can learn in the environment that is full of applicability and marketability. Students no longer have to work behind closed doors, they can convert their professional ability into strong capacity in cultural and creative industry. Further information about our innovative curriculum structure, please refer to the following diagram
【Concept Diagram of Professional Teaching】
In addition, it is also pretty important to know how to gain international perspective and local cultural literacy in order to fulfill the expectation mentioned above. Now we have already developed a prospective network for international communication and local research. In terms of international cooperation, we have exchange programs for “Five-Year BA-MA Program” and “Seven-Year Dual Master’s Program” with The University of Georgia(UGA), USA and a protocol for bilateral exchange of music summer camp with Musikhochschule Lübeck, Germany. Furthermore, we are invited by Geneva University of Music, Switzerland, to conduct a research across Switzerland, China and Taiwan, “SwisSino Musical Talent Study”. In terms of developing local cultural resource, we have already set out cultural and creative resources investigation and composing program. About our international-local two-way development program, please refer to the following.
【Concept Diagram of Research Development】
Expectation and Blessing
Music and life are two sides of the same coin. It reflects what we see, what we think and what we feel during the journey of life. Therefore, learning music should be comprehensive, not just practicing skills. Music learners have to get used to face the loneliness when they face and race with themselves. Meanwhile, they also have to learn how to share feelings with others, share good and bad times together and even cooperate with other people as close as lips and teeth. It is the teaching of the Department of Music that provide this kind of environment. It won’t be easy during the process, but it will definitely a worthy way to temper yourself.
In the end, I want to share two of my own life faiths as the expectation and the blessing for students.
First of all, those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Learning music is a long way to go. You reap what you sow. If you learn music and face your life sincerely, the song you sing must be touching. Remember, it will be touching but not perfect. Nothing is perfect in our lives, but once you are sincere and hard-working, people will receive your goodwill and the message of beauty.
Secondly, there is no fear in love. Music is an art of time and definitely an art of performance. Once you place yourself in it, you will understand how stressful it can be. However, just like what I usually told you in the class, the music is touching or not is not depends on you can sing perfectly or you have amazing skills, it depends on whether you sing with all your heart and whether there are passion and love inside your heart ── the passion and love for music and everyone in the auditorium. So, try it, try to take music performance as an action of sharing, but not a process of being judged. You will realize that instead of being self-inflation and caring about your performance only, your role is to pass on the beauty of music and the love of life to the audience. Your attitude will decide everything. With love inside your heart, you will have no fear, and your life will be better!
Yuh-Fen Cecilia Tseng
Department of Music, NCYU