The Yehudi Menuhin School Qingdao - the 'Sister' School of YMS!
Introducing The Yehudi Menuhin School Qingdao (YMSQ)
YMS had long been looking for an opportunity to establish a presence in China and this finally came true in September 2022 Menuhin himself visited China several times and the deep connection between YMS and China can be traced back many years. The decision to establish YMS’ first overseas branch in China was driven by both a special emotional attachment to the country and strategic considerations.
When Mr. Kong, Chairman of the Qingdao Urban Construction Group, expressed his intention to collaborate in an initiative to establish a Menuhin school in China , YMS was enthusiastic about this partnership and keen to explore the possibilities. It soon became apparent that Mr Kong and his team shared similar values and had a common vision for the future - and that laid a solid foundation for proceeding with the project.
YMSQ is located in Qingdao, a beautiful coastal city in Shandong Province in North East China, situated between Beijing and Shanghai, two metropolises of China. With this excellent geographical advantage, YMSQ has attracted talented young musicians from all over the country. Furthermore, Qingdao is one of China’s major art and culture centres and the cultural infrastructure there benefits from the support of the Chinese Government. The proposal to establish YMSQ received strong Chinese government support and was seen as a means of creating a cultural bridge between Eastern and Western arts and, from YMS’ point of view, an ideal environment for us to realise Menuhin’s vision in collaboration with dedicated partners.
The architectural design and the comprehensive range of facilities of YMSQ are remarkable and the acoustic design of the complex was done by the internationally-renowned Japanese expert Yasuhisa Toyota.
Is YMSQ exclusively for Chinese students, or will it also admit students of other nationalities? How many students will the School teach?
YMSQ, which opened in September 2022 already has around 120 students. Currently, these are all young musicians from China but, over the next couple of years, it will gradually expand the admissions to attract students from East and South East Asia.
The aim is to have student roll of 320 students by 2024, achieving the objective of the first phase of the School’s strategic plan. The School has a capacity of 850 students. The buildings established in the first phase feature exceptional architectural design, utilising top-tier construction materials and resource facilities.
What performing facilities does the School have?
Currently, most performances are held in the School’s 300-seat multi-purpose hall, the Menuhin Concert Hall, but there are also large rehearsal rooms which are suitable for concerts and also the SKY Recital Room - which offers panoramic views of the Tangdao Bay National Wetland Park and the entire peninsula - is wonderful for more intimate performances with a smaller audience. A world-class Performing Arts Centre near the School is under construction and is scheduled to be completed in the next 12 months. The building includes a 1,000-seat concert hall and this will be an additional venue at which students and staff of the School will be able to perform.
What instrument courses will YMSQ offer?
YMSQ now offers a comprehensive range of music majors, including Strings, Woodwind, Brass and Keyboard. With the school’s development, it will embrace all instrumental and vocal disciplines. The School is about to establish a String Orchestra and will also form a Chamber Orchestra later in the 2023-24 academic year. A Chamber Music Programme has already been established and is a key priority for the School in line with YMS.
What academic courses will YMSQ offer - Chinese or International curriculum?
The School shares the educational philosophy and spirit of YMS but its curriculum is tailored to the specific needs of its students. Students in Grades 1-9 (6-14 years of age) in the Elementary and Middle Schools follow the Chinese national compulsory education curriculum. During High School years, (Grades 10-12, 15-17 years of age) they take IGCSEs and A-Level courses.
What are the links between YMS and YMSQ? How will the teaching philosophy of YMS be passed down and reflected at YMSQ?
The senior management teams of YMS and YMSQ maintain close communication at all levels. Lu Siqing, a notable alumnus of YMS and an internationally-renowned violinist, serves as the President of YMSQ. Ashley Wass is the Music Director at both YMS and YMSQ. Ms Ran Zheng and Mr. Mark Stringer, Head and Deputy Head respectively, work closely with Ben Gudgeon, and Ashley Wass. Mark is primarily responsible for music education at YMSQ and reports regularly to the YMS School Board Chairman, David Buckley, and the Senior Management Team. In addition to Ashley Wass, YMS teachers will also regularly visit YMSQ and provide one-to-one coaching, masterclasses and performance classes, as well as participating in concerts. Links are being established now between the teachers at YMS and YMSQ.
The close working relationship means that there is regular consultation about education philosophy and teaching approaches. At YMSQ the importance of Musicianship and Chamber Music are major priorities as is the case at YMS.
Are the music teachers at YMSQ all from China? Are there also International teachers?
All music teachers at YMSQ are experienced and highly-regarded musicians with extensive international performance and teaching experience. The School boasts a team of top-tier educators from various countries, including China, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, and others. It also has connections to worldwide music education resources, bringing world-class teaching methods and educational philosophies. Again, the links with YMS opens up opportunities for YMS staff to visit its sister school in China.
Will YMSQ offer financial support to pupils who are not able to pay full tuition?
YMSQ offers scholarships to exceptional students. It also has a fund to help support exceptional musicians from families who cannot afford its fees.
Will there be formal opportunities for interaction between students and teachers of YMS and YMSQ?
Since opening in 2022, YMSQ is rapidly gaining a high reputation and making an impact in the realm of music and education both in China and internationally. It actively promotes the vibrant development of international music education in China and has become a vital pillar of Qingdao’s “Music Island”. As the School develops it intends to foster on-going collaboration and exchange between YMS and YMSQ and aims to become a ‘new cradle for future musicians’ in the East.