Concordia Shanghai Sep 21 2023

How Concordia's Music Program Shapes Well-Rounded Individuals

Did you know that Concordia boasts an extensive music program, complete with seven string orchestras, eight choirs, eight bands, and a total of eight dedicated music teachers—seven full-time and 1 part-time? This robust program aligns perfectly with the school's commitment to holistic education, starting in early childhood. 

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”
― Plato 

For many Concordia students and alumni, participating in band, orchestra, or choir remains a treasured experience and a lifelong passion. Such meaningful involvement often contributes significantly to their future success in whichever career path they choose. 


Comprehensive Curriculum 

A distinguishing feature of our approach is the incorporation of the Kodály philosophy. This educational philosophy posits that music isn't just a skill to be acquired but an extension of one’s voice and personal identity. From early childhood, our Specials Program introduces students to music and art as mediums for creative expression. Activities range from teaching songs using the Kodály method of clapping to learn rhythm, learning to keep a steady beat by dancing with streamers or scarves, playing small musical instruments, and singing songs in rounds. In elementary school, students further their musical skills, learning to play instruments with proper technique, learning to sing solfege and participating and performing in musical ensembles as early as Grade 1.  

The middle school program builds on this strong foundation by giving every Grade 5 pupil the opportunity to choose to study either choral music, a string instrument, or a wind instrument.  They continue to have lessons every other day throughout middle and high school, honing their abilities and developing their confidence as performers. Concordia’s inclusion of the arts as an integral part of a holistic education means pupils have lessons twice or three times a week, where most schools offer lessons once a week.  

Rich Performing Opportunities  

Concordia students are offered many exciting local and global performance opportunities which helps them grow as musicians and artists. In high school, the program intensifies, offering students opportunities to showcase their talents at international events such as the Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC) Performing Arts Festivals and the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) Festivals.  

This year, we’re excited to send selected students to South Korea for the AMIS Festival and to host the APAC Orchestra Festival in November, featuring an international conductor from Holland.  


High Caliber Faculty  

We take immense pride in our exceptional team of seven full-time and one part-time music educators, each with a wealth of teaching experience and specialized expertise in their respective domains. 


Meet Our Team:  

Elementary Music Teachers

  • Ms. Martha Seibel boasts degrees from Kent State University and Concordia University Chicago, with a focus on elementary music education, learning methodologies, and curriculum development.  
  • Ms. Ilana Shinkle, a holder of a Music Education degree, is dedicated to fostering collaboration among students to create excellent music and enhance their self-confidence.  

Middle School Music Teachers 

  • Mr. Mike Shirk has a Master’s degree in Conducting and previously served as the president of the Korea International Music Educators Association.  
  • Mr. Darrell Roddick has been committed to Performing Arts education since earning his Music Degree in Voice in 1985.  
  • Dr. Jason Wang (part-time) was formerly the assistant principal cellist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and co-principal cellist of the Shanghai Baroque Chamber Orchestra.    

High School Music Teachers 

  • Ms. Mia Björkman holds a Masters degree in violin performance and pedagogy, and brings a global perspective to her teaching, having performed on stages in South Africa, Germany, Lebanon and Spain.  
  • Mr. Tom Ford has been conducting choirs for over three decades and excels in pushing his students to new heights through a diverse range of vocal techniques and styles.  
  • Ms. Vonda Roddick is a distinguished musician who has not only recorded for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but also performed for an array of dignitaries, including the late Queen Elizabeth II.  

This distinguished group of educators brings not just mastery in music, but also a fervent dedication to enriching our students' lives through musical exploration and achievement. 


At Concordia, our music instructors craft a comprehensive curriculum that spans from elementary through  high school, including offering AP music theory exams to pupils interested in studying music in university. From elementary, through middle and high school, the curriculum is aligned to the standards prescribed in the American National Association for Music Education which emphasizes that students develop as strong performers as well as creators.  

Optimal learning flourishes in an enjoyable and engaging environment. To foster this, our teachers maintain a classroom atmosphere that is both lighthearted and constructive. Students are not only encouraged to celebrate each other's achievements but also guided to develop their critical thinking through in-depth conversations and focused instrument practice.  


Beyond Musical Proficiency

Every child is given ample opportunity to delve deep into the world of music, cultivating their inherent creativity. Scientific research has shown that learning an instrument has tangible benefits for brain development and can help pupils improve not only creativity, but also reading, memory and concentration. Participation in ensemble performances additionally hones students' social skills while bolstering their discipline and ability to collaborate. In essence, we aim to produce well-rounded individuals through the medium of music.  

“I aim to not only teach pupils notes and technique, but to develop the pupil in a holistic manner – finding ways for them to grow and explore not only the intellectual side of music, but also the emotional, physical and spiritual.”
– Ms. Mia Björkman, MS/HS Strings Teacher

“In my classes, you will see students actively engaged in music making through singing, moving, playing instruments and games. Through regular participation in making music, students develop the skills and self-confidence integral to being a great musician, successful student, and life-long learner.”
– Ms. Ilana Shinkle, ES Music Specialist  

We believe every child is a musician in the making, and we eagerly anticipate the future performances that will showcase the talents of Concordia's exceptional young artists.    

Interested in coming to watch us perform? 

We will be performing at the Kerry Parkside on Saturday, October 14, at 11am! 

Our APAC Orchestra Festival concert will be on Saturday, November 18, at 7pm in the Rittmann Theatre. Join us!