UW Music students, faculty, and alumni are making an indelible stamp on the study of music in far-away Yangon, Myanmar through a sustained partnership recognized by the UW Office of Global Affairs.
At the Gitameit Music Institute in Yangon, Myanmar, musicians and scholars from around the world converge to perform and study music of a range of styles, from Burmese piano to Afro-Cuban rhythms, Hindustani Indian music to Western classical music. Since its founding in 2004, this nonprofit community center and music school has forged sustained connections with instructors and performers from the world over—including some affiliated with the University of Washington School of Music through the officially sanctioned partnership.
Ongoing work by UW faculty and students has been focused on helping the institute establish and maintain a two-year “teaching artist” program, whereby students at Gitameit study music performance (Western piano and Burmese-style piano (sandaya), violin, vocal-choral music, Burmese harp (saung gauk), plus pedagogy and communication skills in order to prepare for careers as performers and teachers.
In addition to physical visits—including several over the past few years by Professor Patricia Campbell, as coordinator of the partnership, and various graduate students—support from the UW for the initiative has included the development of a robust video library with lessons by UW faculty and ongoing Skype sessions that enable instruction and discussion between the two institutions over the internet.
“With Myanmar, we’ve found private funding to send Chris Mena (PhD student in Music Education) to teach,” says Prof. Campbell. “I’ve traveled there to teach musicianship and eurhythmics, and alumnus Andre Elias (’16 PhD Ethnomusicology) visited for some teaching, too, last summer. We’re excited with the UW video library of rehearsals, lessons, and performances that we’ve launched, thanks to many wonderful UW faculty and advanced students.”
The University of Washington influence is apparent in other aspects of the Institute, as well, with UW Music alumnus Ne Myo Aung (’15 MA Ethnomusicology) serving as director-dean of the Institute. “I first met Ne Myo in 2005, and once Myanmar opened its doors to the possibility of the Burmese traveling abroad, Ne Myo applied for and received a three-year Fulbright to study here,” says Professor Campbell. “He is a wonderful singer, sandaya musician, scholar, and teacher, and we have every good reason to celebrate his success!”.
“Myanmar is a land of many histories and cultures, and a colorful place of progressive change with an earnest interest in opening to the world and the West,” Campbell says. “It’s been a pleasure to join hands with our friends in Myanmar to foster the education and training of musicians there, and to gain further insight on music through the experience