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Clara Yang performs in concert halls around the world, and she also brings students together to play together as head of keyboard studies in the department of music in the College of Arts & Sciences at UNC.
Today, because of the global pandemic, she collaborates with other musicians using video recordings and convenes her piano students for class on Zoom. In addition to one-on-one instruction, Yang usually teaches music classes — playing in an ensemble, accompanying other musicians and improvisation — in person, but with the pandemic, she and her students have had to rely on technology.
“Teaching the instrument, one-on-one lessons for example, really requires a lot of interaction,” said Yang. “A lot of it is physical, too. If I’m there with a student, I can guide them. They watch me, they listen to me. It’s very visual and very interactive. On top of that, you can sing along, play along. All of these things are quite essential in music teaching.”
With so much being handled differently due to ongoing COVID concerns, Yang’s teaching style — and the teaching style of educators overall — has shifted in the past year.
“We can adapt,” said Yang. “This whole pandemic really taught us how to think creatively to make teaching more effective.”
Yang earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and a Master of Music degree at the Yale School of Music. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California. Distinguished composer Chen Yi wrote the piano concerto “Four Spirits” for Yang. In November 2016, Yang travelled to Beijing for the world premiere of the piece, playing with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.
“We rehearsed for two days, and then on the concert day it really was our best performance,” she recalled. “It was
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