Editor, McLerran Journal
Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX
I met Chee Weng at a conducting symposium a few summers ago and have enjoyed his never-ending positivity, enormous personality, and passionate conducting.
Dr. Chee Weng Yim is currently the Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. His duties include conducting the Symphonic Band, teaching undergraduate music courses, and overseeing the wind program. Originally from Singapore, Dr. Yim has performed as a guest conductor and clinician in Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and in the United States. Previously, Professor Yim held the Assistant Band Director position at Raffles Girls’ School (Singapore) and was the Director of Bands at Assumption English School (Singapore). His education includes a Bachelor of Arts (2010) in Psychology and Specialist Diploma in Band Directing from Nanyang Technological University (2011), where he was also the concertmaster for the Symphonic Band and a clarinetist in the Windstar Ensemble and Orchestra of the Music Maker. In 2015, he earned a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from Georgia State University, where he also acted as the music director for the SALON chamber music concert series. Recently, Dr. Yim completed his education with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Conducting (2018) at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
About his decision to become a musician, Dr. Yim shared that it has always been a passion and would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of his mother to whom he is eternally grateful. As a young musician, it was Dr. Yim’s goal to become a famous conductor who enjoyed “fame, prestige, and all those other effervescent and unimportant things.” He described the epiphany that he had after observing his many music teachers and realizing that the conducting part of the job is only the very tip of the iceberg; the directors who make an impact are those who aim for “scholarship, musicianship, showmanship,” and are an active part of the complete music world. Professor Yim has gradually realized the importance of teaching values like citizenship and self-discipline, in addition to music, in order to “create a better place for future generations.” He appreciates that each one of his past mentors has taught him something different and helped to make him a better person.
In order to create an emotional performance, Dr. Yim states that it is first the responsibility of the conductor to know the music completely, and then “when you have something to say,” a memorable performance “comes naturally.” His score study process is lengthy and includes gaining a general feel for the piece by combing through it several times, “making arch maps and information sheets,” and finally developing a concrete intention. “The conductor is responsible,” he shares, for consolidating the information and “unifying the musicians towards a common goal.” Dr. Yim also advises against relying too heavily on recordings, saying it is the “disciplined work” that “ensures you know what is actually in the music” and that the interpretation is therefore more likely to be sincere.
When asked about the importance of music education, Professor Yim stated that “all education is important” but that music and art specifically offer opportunities to explore our humanity. He believes that it is the responsibility of educators (and of the community) to provide all students with a quality education, and the subsequent “social mobility” that comes with it. Competition, he shares, “is not that important,” and reminds educators that the goal should instead be “to better ourselves” by means of “analyzing scores, attending concerts, observing rehearsals, and exploring new music.” When at all possible, music educators should avoid becoming arrogant and instead attempt to develop discipline and a strong work ethic. Dr. Yim shares a Chinese saying, “teachers are like parents,” in order to point out the numerous additional duties that come with mentoring young people as well as the humility that is required. Education, Professor Yim believes, is one of the most noble professions which gives one the ability to reach others’ hearts; “one of the most profound things in life.” In the future, Dr. Yim hopes to continue to grow as a person and “become ever better” as a musician and conductor.
Follow Dr. Yim at the Graceland University School of Music
Book Suggestion from Dr. Yim
Interview on June 5, 2018.
Graceland University School of Music Faculty Profile. Web. 3 June, 2018.