MEP Overseas Learning Journey, Munich
Dunman High School Music Elective Programme embarked on a trip to Germany and Austria which was carried out from 2nd June to 13th June 2013. This was the department’s second trip organised for MEP students. The duration was 11 days with two accompanying teachers, Ms Debbie Tan and Ms Yick Jue Ru. The number of students who went were 18 students — seven Year 3s, six Year 4s and five Year 5s. The trip was an enrichment trip where students visited various learning institutes and areas of interest related to their music scholastic learning. The objectives of the trip was firstly to harness students’ musical development in composition approaches, research and listening perception skills. Secondly, students on this trip would be able to contextualise their understanding of 19th to 20th century music history and enrich their understanding of Western Classical music amidst 20th century War and Nationalism. Very much in the spirit of the integrated programme, students grouped into mixed levels had to answer and solve interesting challenges mentored by the Year 5s. The questions were linked to the cultural, artistic and musical importance of the venues visited. These involved putting up a skit, Kodaly charade using hand actions and answering questions after museum visits. Groups would be rewarded points and given a grand prize at the end of the trip.
In Luneberg, Germany, students visited the church where famous composer JS Bach studied as a small boy. In Hamburg, students participated in masterclasses at the International College of Music conducted by renowned pianist Prof Manfred Fock on the piano, Prof Sven Forsberg on the cello and Prof Razvan Aliman on the violin. The MEP students also put up a public concert, playing works by Brahms, Ravel and even a Chinese piece Saima 赛马 Horse Racing on the erhu and percussion horse hooves. Students also visited the Brahms Musuem to learn more about the life of their A level setwork composer, Johannes Brahms.
In Leipzig, students visited the St Thomas Church where the grave of JS Bach lay. They also visited the interactive Bach Archive Museum to listen to rare Bach recordings and observe how scholars preserved scores 400 years old. Students also saw the Auerbachs Keller, described by famous German poet Goethe in his monumental play, Faust. A visit to Mendelssohn’s home was not to be missed and students were in awe of his house that showcased his life, artwork and inspirations.
On the night of arriving in Munich, students attended an intensely breathtaking concert by famous cellist Yo Yo Ma and performers from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Many students gave feedback they were highly inspired by his music and even waited outside for his autograph! Students also visited the Dachau Concentration Camp which detained Jewish prisoners during the 2nd World War. The visit was chilling and poignant as students visited the exhbition, prison rooms and the infamous gas chamber. Many felt acutely the atrocity and sufferings of the war and offered flowers of remembrance at the site where unnamed Jewish prisoners were buried. On the second day in Munich, students visited the famous Neuschwanstein Castle that was built by the controversial King Ludvig II in honour of composer Richard Wagner’s famous operatic works.
During the brief stopover in Salzburg, students visited WA Mozart’s home. In Vienna, students watched the Vienna Boys’ Choir as well the Vienna Philharmonic at the famous Konzerthaus, this year being its 100th anniversary. Students then visited the Viennese Art Museum and other landmarks. Students also paid their respects at the graves memorial site of Beethoven and Brahms in the Zentralfriedhof Cemetery. One of the scholastic stops was at Arnold Schoenberg Centre as part of the students’ compositional study.
The second last day in Vienna was signficant as students participated in a piano masterclass at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna by renowned pianist Prof Roswitha Heintze. It was an enjoyable and enriching session where Prof Heintze gave advice on selected students’ performances. Students later saw famous master pianist Maurizio Pollini give a fiesty performance at the age of 73 in the Konzerthaus. The evening ended with prizes given out to the winning group of the trip activities. On the morning of their flight departure, students were fortunate to attend for free the 2013 International Beethoven International Piano Competition and listened to two young pianists being assessed by an international panel of established musicians.
Apart from the games, students were also given a trip booklet to write their reflections after each day’s activity. This was assessed by teachers and returned with their comments. Students were encouraged to do independent research on the trip and gather information. The assignments given included individual concert reports and masterclass reflections. Additionally, year 3s would present in Term 3 to their classmates their learning experiences from the trip. Year 4s were assigned to compose a collaborative chorale using a Bach chorale as starting ground and sound effects to portray ‘War and its effects’ inspired by the places visited. Having watched The White Ribbon and Schindler’s List as part of their pre-trip context introduction to Germany and its involvement in the war, all Year 5 students were to present on ‘20th century War and its social effects on music’ based on the places visited. They also had to write a short film music excerpt based on a war film clip selected using the 12-tone technique studied. Selected film clips included Hurt Locker, Empire of the Sun and Letters from Iwo Jima. Composers as sources included Wagner, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schumann.
Overall, the trip was successful as many students wrote in their journals they were inspired in their music learning by the various concerts and masterclasses attended. They could also understand more deeply about European culture and music based on the places visited. They also learnt about the value of life through the visit to the prison camp. Many also shared they bonded within and across the three levels and brought home good memories of the trip.
Ms Debbie Tan Ai Ling
Ms Yick Jue Ru