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Spotlight on William Yang, Volunteer

"[Music] served as an outlet to create, explore, discover, and express my emotions that amplified my voice when I could not express them through words."

Why do you volunteer for ETM-LA?

I volunteer for ETM-LA because it is a great way to stay connected with people in the music education community. ETM-LA acknowledges the essential value of music education in years K-12 and how it would impact children’s lives when music programs are cut due to budget constraints. I value the organization’s mission because music played an integral part of my K-12 education and provided many opportunities for personal growth. I hope my contribution as a volunteer assists them in achieving their goals. In order to achieve equality, equity needs to be achieved first and that is what ETM-LA does. 

Can you share one of your experiences volunteering for ETM-LA? 

One of my most memorable experiences volunteering for ETM-LA is when I volunteered at the teacher training at the Los Angeles Valley College and witnessed how joyful and passionate the music teachers were as they were learning music pedagogical methods to further expand and engage students in music education. Watching teachers giving their 150% effort that day showed how much they really care about our younger generation. It was the behind the scenes effort and the amount of time it took the collective team to make things happen to achieve the same goal.  

How has music impacted you?

Music has always been a compass that helped me navigate through challenges throughout K-12. It served as an outlet to create, explore, discover, and express my emotions that amplified my voice when I could not express them through words. I was doing poorly in school (Kindergarten through 4th grade) until I started taking piano lessons at age nine and joined the music program in my middle school. My grades were near perfect because music kept me motivated and I learned how to balance my academic and music rehearsal schedule to make things work. Music keeps me engaged in everything I do! I continued to participate in music programs in high school and in college, which led me to several professional musical works while studying in STEM related fields. Music has guided me to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a minor in music, a master’s degree in bioengineering, a master’s degree in project management, and now, pursuing a law degree.

How should diverse cultural music be part of the curriculum for music students?

In K-12, I was always fascinated with musical instruments around the world. Every culture is unique and interprets music differently, and I think it would be awesome to teach young children about how music is produced in different countries. It would help students understand our diverse world better and promote a more visceral connection with each individual. Music is a great element to learn about other cultures, just like food! I believe it would be great to teach students on how instruments are created and are played.

How has your family’s heritage and culture influenced you musically? 

My family’s Chinese heritage and culture provided me with a different perspective on how music is interpreted. The music is a combination of sounds of nature and I learned how to combine these elements, or ornamentations, in modern Western music to create my own unique voice. By combining Chinese music ornamentations in Western music, I am able to create unique sounds in my flute playing.