Yamaha Systematic Wind Band Instructors Clinic (Chengdu, China)


 I’d like to share about the Yamaha Systematic Wind Band Instructors Clinic that took place in Chengdu, Sichuan, from October 14th to 18th.

The main goal of the clinic was to provide comprehensive training for band instructors, addressing the shortage of skilled instructors compared to the increasing number of bands in China. From Harbin in the north, Guangzhou in the south and Xinjiang in the west, teachers who usually work as instrument tutors and some owners of Yamaha dealers in various regions from all over China gathered in Chengdu.

I had the honour of serving as the main instructor for the five-day course, which covered various aspects, including individual technique checking, fundamental ensemble training, and piece rehearsal.

A notable highlight of the event was that participants spent the initial two days practising on instruments different from their usual majors. This allowed them to experience the common challenges faced by beginner students. Post-program questionnaires revealed the tremendous success of this approach. It became possible, of course,  thanks to Yamaha’s provision of trial instruments and equipment.

On the morning of the third day, Mr. Wang Jianchun, an instrument-repair expert, delivered a lecture on regular maintenance knowledges.

Afterwards, participants returned to their original instruments for ensemble playing. Although it was initially challenging to synchronise their sound at the beginning, with careful tuning and the introduction of singing and hand-clapping exercises, their ensemble quality gradually improved.

From the fourth day onwards, we transitioned towards a more conductor-centric perspective. I provided an overview of reading scores and related topics. Conducting is a highly specialized skill, and my skill doesn’t allow me to teach it comprehensively, but I shared some valuable insights I’ve gained from previous workshops (the fourth photo serves as a ‘poor’ example).

In the afternoon of the fourth day, we visited Chengdu Xichuan Secondary School to demonstrate how the content covered in the first three days can be done in an actual class. It was a little different from the usual lessons and the students might have had a bit of a hard time. The third photo has a very ‘visiting party’ feel to it.

On days four and five, all participants had the opportunity to stand on the podium for a short time and I shared some TIPS after each participant’s conducting💡 The model band was the Chengdu Yilin Instrumental Shop Teachers’ Band. They responded well to the various conductors and followed their lead.

A group discussion served as the final review, followed by presentations by each group on the last day. I asked that participants from the same region not be in the same groups, but all groups seemed to foster a friendly atmosphere. Our five days together felt like a “training camp,” and it’s heartening that they naturally became friends during this time.

The five-day project concluded without any significant problems. We are relieved to have received excellent feedback from the participants. I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone at Yamaha China and Chengdu Yilin Music Instrument Shop for their hard work and care.🙏🏻

n 2000, when I attended the Japan Band Clinic at Nemu no Sato for the first time, I was greatly impressed by the “mountain of information I wanted to learn.” While I won’t claim that what this project has provided was exactly the same, it would be a source of immense satisfaction for me, as the one who served as a main clinician, if the participants had similar impressions.

I’m proud to say that this time, both musically and linguistically, I was able to draw upon my broad knowledge as a so-called generalist. In addition, the ‘importance of musical imagery’ that I felt in the summer of 2021 when the band competition resumed after the pandemic, and the fact that I have had more opportunities to carry my own instruments and play them by myself since then, also helped a lot. Some elements would be only possible because of the timing of this post-COVID period.

On the other hand, I’m deeply appreciative of everyone’s patience as they listened to a foreigner’s often hesitant Mandarin for five days. I often thought during the event that I should work on improving my Chinese vocabulary and expression. I definitely need to study more!

An official Official report from Yamaha China’s wind and percussion division has been released on this programme (in Chinese)!