ABOUT BEGINNER ORCHESTRA
Beginner Orchestra is run by a collective of music educators working in international schools around the world.
Our team of highly trained teachers have extensive knowledge working with beginner groups and thousands of hours of combined experience leading orchestras in schools.
We understand the importance of quality resources in the educational sphere and are passionate about beginner musicians because we see them as the foundation of what we do as music educators.
If we can engage and inspire our beginners, then we will continue to see strong musicians moving through our school music systems and into our local and international artistic communities when they finish school.
Our definition of an 'orchestra' is not intended to be rigid, yet we do provide a standardised format for all of our products, focusing on differentiated parts composed for a traditional Western-symphonic orchestra model. We do, however, believe that an orchestra is fundamentally a 'group of musicians' and we love to provide schools with the option of including instruments from diverse cultural contexts into these pieces. Contact us if this interests you.
MEET THE COMPOSERS
Chris Koelma ()
Publisher, Composer & Founder of Beginner Orchestra
Chris composes for orchestra with a specific challenge in mind. He starts by identifying a particular instrument, rhythmic phrase, melodic idea or style that he would like to have his students explore. He also centres in on a tasteful compositional structure quite early in the process.
Until recently, Chris was the Head of Music at a large International school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He completed his Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Teaching at Avondale College in Australia and a Master of Educational Studies (Creative Arts Specialization) at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He is currently completing his PhD looking at Music Education in International Schools.
Chris composes for orchestra with a specific challenge in mind. He starts by identifying a particular instrument, rhythmic phrase, melodic idea or style that he would like to have his students explore. He also centres in on a tasteful compositional structure quite early in the process. He wants his students to feel excited about playing a piece, without necessarily knowing that it has been specifically designed for an important area of their musical development.
Chris believes that composing for a beginner orchestra is a special process because although a piece may need to be ‘easier’, it is also tightly constrained by the ability level of the individuals in an ensemble. It also needs to have enough challenge for those students who are moving more quickly in their learning journey.
Find out more about Chris' work: https://chriskoelma.com
Christopher Smith ()
Composer & Elementary School Orchestra Director and General Music Teacher
Christopher is a music and strings teacher based in Victoria, Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Victoria, with teaching certification. He has previously worked at international schools in Asia for about 10 years.
Christopher's compositional style is fluid, emulating the great work of whoever inspires him at the moment. Egalitarianism is also an important goal for him, so that each player is challenged and interested by their own part as well as the piece as a whole.
"A beginner playing alone has little context of how to sound good. A beginner playing with an ensemble has a common experience of success and challenge, and immediately becomes a valued contributor of a shared environment. In such a large group performance, the individual challenges dissolve into the melting pot so that a performer can play with less anxiety and develop musical confidence more deeply. Even new players can be bolstered by the big sound, and they may well exceed their own expectations as they are intrinsically motivated to join in and make the collective sound as good as possible."
Catherine Colette ()
Composer & Primary Music Teacher
Catherine is a Primary Music Specialist based in London. She holds a Masters of Music in composition, a Bachelor of Music and a PGCE in Primary Education from the University of Aberystwyth, Wales.
Catherine completed a TESOL Diploma from the London Teacher Training College in 2007 and enjoys teaching English. She has over 14 years’ experience teaching music internationally and especially enjoys collaborating on curriculum development with colleagues. Whilst in Malaysia, Catherine became a certified music examiner for GUILD Australia, examining biannually for them in South East Asia from 2014 to 2021.
For Catherine, joining a Beginner Orchestra is fun and an integral part of development for musical students. It promotes team spirit and can bring about a feeling of identity and a sense of pride for its members. She believes that music is an art form to be shared and enjoyed by the listener and the performer. Playing in an orchestra can also promote self-confidence, owing to the fact that players can perform in public as part of the orchestra, until they are ready or wish to perform solos.
“I am delighted to join the Beginner Orchestra! My compositions are derived from an emotion or a scenario, with dynamics and articulation employed to bring it to life!”
Jiyoung Um ()
Composer & Elementary School Orchestra Director
Jiyoung Um is a graduate of The Juilliard School receiving his Bachelor and Master degrees in violin performance. He also did a Doctoral study in music education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has given solo performances at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center and has been featured as a soloist around the world including in the U.S.A, Canada, Asia, and Central America.
Jiyoung has served as a violin professor at Biola University and is an award-winning ASCAP composer, having published over 150 educational orchestra compositions and arrangements. A number of his compositions are published by Wingert-Jones Publications and Tempo Music Press. Some of his music has been recorded and released by SONY MUSIC.
Jiyoung is currently Orchestra Director at Mariners Christian School, USA and loves to write music for young musicians to inspire and nurture their musical talents.
Nathen Durasamy ()
Composer & Composition Teacher
Nathen Durasamy is a London based composer, classical/flamenco guitarist and tutor. He is currently teaching composition in the junior department at the Trinity Laban conservatoire of music and dance in London.
Nathen has received multiple awards for his compositions. Including the award of excellence and the Daryl Runswick orchestra prize. His Orchestral music has been performed internationally and all over London, including Kings Place, St. Pauls Cathedral and Blackheath Halls. He has also received commissions from a handful of professional, student and amateur orchestras.
Nathen works as a composer for media but has always taught composition and guitar. In Birmingham Nathen worked with people struggling with their mental health, delivering fun and engaging song-writing lessons.
Nathen’s pieces for Beginner Orchestra are fun, exciting and written with the students' ability level at the forefront of his mind. Ensuring that every piece is easily playable, the students can enjoy the experience of being an integral contributor to the ensemble as a whole.
"Music education is one of the greatest things we can offer someone. To learn to be a part of something that moves us emotionally, that engages the learner in every facet of their mind is a privilege to be a part of.”
Find out more about Nathen and his work at: https://linktr.ee/Nathend
Helen Long ()
Composer & Whole School International School Music Teacher
Helen Long is an experienced international school educator who has worked in the UK, Tanzania & Malaysia. She is a multi-instrumentalist and composer who specialises in composing for student ensembles.
Helen has spent many years as a Head of Department and successfully built school music programs from the ground up.
Helen believes in the importance of “starting from the bottom” when creating impactful whole school music departments. In this way, she has developed incredible resources to help beginner groups get started! Helen’s compositions stretch across all styles and genres, and aim to unite students through ensemble-playing.
Look out for Helen’s brand new pieces in the 2023 catalogue!