Through the key areas of Responding and Creating, every SWIS student studies Music with plenty of opportunities to express themselves as soloists and ensemble members.  In all Grade levels, technical and aural musical understanding is honed using Kodaly methodology and moveable "doh".  Additionally, British, North American and Chinese terminologies are utilized. This allows the SWIS Music student to be truly international and versatile in Music and more readily able to accept and explore the large variety of music systems in our world.

Through comparative exploration of the Elements of Music, Music at SWIS allows a student to open the doors to cultures other than their own.  The study of these elements provides a meaningful and tangible way in which to discuss and describe both familiar and unfamiliar music.

A strong emphasis is placed on the authenticity of the musical experience using a wide variety of instrument timbres. The SWIS Music Department uses musical instruments sourced both locally and abroad, chosen for their excellent quality and recognized uses within both education and industry environments.

SWIS students also enhance their learning process through the use of the following instruments at specific grade levels:

    • Early Years – Grade 2: Orff instruments.
    • Grade 2: ukulele.
    • Grade 3: recorder.
    • Grades 4 – 5: violin, ‘cello.
    • Grade 6: dizi, flute, clarinet, trumpet.
    • Grade 7: guitar.

In addition to the above instruments, students have an opportunity to explore basic instrumental techniques of the Chinese erhu, liuqin, yanqin, guzheng and dizi.

Extra-curricular Music ensembles are integral to the cultural life of any school.  SWIS is no exception.  The Music Department offers a variety of groups for students who already have musical experience and are keen to be more involved, working in groups towards an evening concert each semester:

    • Primary Choir: Grade 1 – 3
    • Primary Choir: Grade 4 – 5
    • Secondary Choir: Grade 6 – 12
    • Chinese Ensemble: Grade 4 – 12
    • Primary String Orchestra: Grade 1 – 5
    • Secondary String Orchestra: Grade 6 – 12
    • Primary Wind Band: Grade 3 – 5
    • Secondary Concert Band: Grade 6 – 12
    • Rock Bands: Grade 5 – 12
    • Dance Team: Grade 6 – 12
    • Shenzhen Bay Music Festival Choir and Band: Grade 4 – 10
    • Parent Choir

Student-led groups have developed from the SWIS Music after-school program with Secondary student leaders creating such groups as the Glee Club and off-shoots from the Rock Bands, preparing for performances throughout the school year for assemblies, celebrations and charity events. 

Productions have been a feature of SWIS Music, collaborating beyond the department and bringing the performing and visual arts together, since our first productions in 2012: the Early Years ‘Winter Holidays at Home’ and Grade 1 – 6 ‘A Winter Solstice’.

Productions are prepared for each Early Years and Primary grade level through a Unit of Inquiry in collaboration with classroom teachers.

In Semester 1 an extra-curricular PYP Production is developed with students collaborating in the performing and visual arts.  PYP Productions have included ‘Social Skills’ (2015), ‘Rumpus in the Rainforest’ (2016) and ‘Seussical the Musical’ (2017).

In the Secondary Division (MYP/DP) more focus is on Drama play productions to strengthen English-language and acting skills, with music and visual art emphasizing the play to be staged.

Technology plays an important role in the development of musical skills and creativity.  A custom-made purpose built Music MIDI Lab featuring Sibelius, Garage Band, Music Ace, and the cloud based Auralia and Musition aural and theory training programmes, allows for musical growth in our students.

At the heart of our Music Programme the words of composer Robert Schumann: A well trained ear, mind, heart and hand, work in tandem with the IB philosophy of developing the whole student.

Ultimately SWIS Music students are instilled with the confidence, creativity, know-how and self-discipline to become aware and articulate musicians and audience members of the future.


Significant events

The Shenzhen Bay Music Festival

The annual Shenzhen Bay Music Festival was founded and hosted by SWIS in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  The festival endeavors to bring together passionate and able Grade 4 – 8 musicians from the city to prepare for a combined schools musical event.  The 2015 festival saw two guest conductors sharing their expertise with faculty and students, Mrs. Darlene Elkins (USA) and Mrs. Mary Giles (Australia), and the 2016 festival featured guest conductor Mr. David Sheaffer (USA) and guest composer-in-residence Mr. Paul Jarman (Australia).  The 2017 festival will be guided by guest conductor Ms. Jena Dickey (USA).

CHoP Festival

The CHoP Festival: Polish Experimental Music in China, is an opportunity for Polish sound and visual artists to visit Shenzhen to collaborate and give concerts and workshops.  SWIS established a relationship with the CHoP Festival, organized with support of the ‘Art and Technology Foundation of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of the Republic of Poland’, in 2012, resulting in the first SWIS ChoP Festival workshop and concert in November 2013.  A second ChoP Festival workshop and concert returned to SWIS in November 2016. 

In workshops and concerts students are shown and experience sound production technology, including mixers and apps, for recording, manipulating and mixing sound into music tracks.  Common devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, are used to show how sound can be mixed and changed.  Some student performers also have the opportunity to collaborate with the visiting artists, discovering new sonic horizons as their instrument sounds are captured and manipulated.

College / University visits

SWIS is continually developing relationships with tertiary institutions.  2017 saw a visit by professors from The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (Netherlands), who came to SWIS to discuss the career path to becoming a professional musician and to give a master class for Secondary MYP students.

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