By Yeunhee ChangManaging Team Leader, Teacher and Assistant Conductor, Hyo Jeong Youth Orchestra
My name is Yeunhee Chang, and I am proud to say I was one of the instigators and creators of the Hyo Jeong Youth Orchestra. We have reached our 1 year anniversary since the launching of the orchestra and it is with great pride that, as a Managing Team Leader and Teacher of the program, I can say that I knew our young 2nd and 3rd generation would develop at lightning speed honing in their talents to a point where their music moves the hearts of all who have heard them perform. In this newsletter, I want to share the ups and downs and achievements of the beginning stages of this blessed youth orchestra, so that our international community can see what can be achieved when we believe in our youth and invest our hearts into their lives.
People have asked me where I got the energy and ability to create such a complex program from nothing. My answer is, I am a mother of 5 children, all under 10 years of age, and as a second generation myself, I have a great deal of passion to build up the coming generations and to show other young mothers that they, too, can create and build complex things. So, together with the committee members of the Holy Song Compilation Committee, and with the love, hope, and financial support of our beloved True Mother, this youth orchestra was created. The process was often a difficult one but I believe with determination and passion, the spirit world was inspired to help us all make this happen.
Currently there are 110 students in the HJYO, with 10 amazing teachers that we whole-heartedly handpicked. There are music instruction lessons from Monday to Friday starting from 4 P.M. to 7 P.M. for all 110 students. We prepare snacks for all the kids for the whole week and do our best to give them food with little to no preservatives and sugar. A mother thinks of all such details where children are concerned, so every inch of this program was dealt with much care and attention.
We conduct orchestral practice for 36 of our students on Saturday mornings from 9:30 A.M to 11:30 A.M. We have a 3-semestered program (1 semester is 4 months), and at the end of each semester we have a performance and technical playing tests. At this time we see if there are any new students that will be able to enter the orchestra performing team.
Two months ago, we were finally able to expand our administrative staff to 4 people. Before then, there was just myself and Mrs. Kubo Eriko. We also have 2 awesome part-time staff. To keep the quality of an ever expanding program and to maintain a high standard, we need to quickly bring more people on staff. This cannot be stressed enough.
The desire to create a youth orchestra was inspired by the presence of Mr. David Eaton, who is also the conductor of New York Symphony Orchestra in New York City. He was called to Korea by True Mother to be a part of the Hyo Jeong Culture of Arts. I asked Mr. Eaton, “What is a conductor without an orchestra?” Although Mr. Eaton’s desire was to originally conduct an adult orchestra, I have had the pleasure to watch his transformation from a world class conductor into an enthusiastic leader of young, tiny (and very cute) musicians. As Mr. Eaton’s assistant at the Holy Song Compilation Committee, I was given the rare chance to witness his masterful ability to arrange music for our youth orchestra, to match their playing ability, and be able to produce an orchestral sound with spirit-moving, joy-raising affects. His arrangements have been able to match the early playing abilities of the children’s development so that they could experience the magic of playing in harmony together, as adult musicians do.
I take this opportunity to also commend our staff. We have been working with a tiny administrative staff inside such a large program, and for over 6 out of the 10 months, it was just Mrs. Kubo Eriko and myself. Mrs. Eriko commutes for 90 minutes to get to work, starts her work day at 10 A.M., and stays until 7 P.M., getting home by 9:30 P.M. She also works on Saturday mornings to help with the orchestral practices. Thankfully I live less than 3 minutes away from our office. The dedication and selflessness Mrs. Eriko has brought to the program for the sake of the children must be made known as her mission mindedness has become a standard we look for in others who would like to join our team. She has systematized the inner workings of organizing our 110 students, 70 families and 10 teachers. All our staff has kindly worn many hats so that duties of unfilled positions still get done ensuring everything is ready and in order for the 30 kids who practice every day. We educate each staff member to reach out with the heart of a parent to raise each child in the program up to the standards our True Mother hopes for and expects, a standard that would see all our youth build up their musical capabilities so they might enter The Little Angels School.
There have been many ups and downs in managing and building the HJYO program, such as adult egos and the organizational red-tape that is often hindering, rather than supportive; however, these are typical of all new programs that are built from scratch. It has all been worth the struggle just to see the children grow and develop in their love for music, revel in togetherness, realizing they are within True Mother’s direct sphere of love, and seeing them grow in their love and trust towards our staff. My heart has grown so much in the last year and the beauty and love each child brings to this program has all been possible because of Heavenly Parent and True Parents’ love for us.
Before coming to Korea, I was a music major during my college years and prior to working at the HJYO, I had 5 years experience as a youth pastor and assistant pastor. I brought these experiences with me to help teach and counsel some of the children who could not focus but had an interest in being in our program. There were a few students who came because they felt their parents were forcing them to come and, in class, they made things difficult for their classmates. Some of the teachers begged me to take those students out of the program, but I told them that if these children could feel loved and accepted they would change. I am a firm believer that all children can be guided to transformation by a teacher who truly cares for the student’s mental and emotional well being. As Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid said, “There is no such thing as a bad student, just a bad teacher!” I called each of the students who had a difficult time in the program to my office, looked them square in the eye, and asked them why they didn’t want to be here and what they would like to do instead. When they brought their fears and concerns out into the open, I could help them see a different point of view. They are children! How could we not but give them more chances then not? Then I implanted a dream in them and told them that I believed in them. This whole week we had our end of semester examinations, which gives our staff the opportunity to see how the children have developed over the last 4 months. There are 2 girls in our program who are great examples of how investment, where no one else wants to invest, makes a difference. We had our end of semester performance test and 2 of the young girls who came to our program, who spent their time initially laying on the floor, refusing to play their instruments, are now desperately hoping to play for True Mother in Hawaii and on the lawn of True Parents’ residence. These 2 girls have excelled immensely and are only 9 years old. After listening to them play now, I also believe they will be ready to join the orchestra members practices soon.
Over 100 of the students have never had formal musical lessons before coming to our program one year ago. One year later, there are 36 students who have entered the orchestra and, after this semester’s testing, 2 more have joined. There were just 15 students in the Saturday orchestral practices when we first started, and only one student could read rhythms and music properly. Although there still needs to be more attention paid to Musicianship 101, many of the students are developing technically week by week. My next step will be to instruct them on how to play expressively and how to improvise music.
Our community of young children inspire the hope that Heaven’s kingdom is being built. Their development in the heavenly centered arts and culture is the key in bringing all people closer to the heart of Heavenly Parent. I pray that all those in leadership positions understand the great impact the development of our youth can have as they become immersed in the cultural arts and how hardened, ego-driven souls can be touched by the heavenly sounds of music.
If you are wondering, should I be interested in creating a youth orchestra or any other program for young children? Then the answer is Yes! Don’t think too hard about it, just find a way to do it. You can be assured that Heaven is watching and helping you to figure out everything else along the way.
Many thanks must also be given to:
- Henry Kim, who was with us for 5 months this year and captured the children’s attention during musicianship classes.
- The Cello teacher, Mrs. Hwang. Though things didn’t work out with our program, but because of you, we put a lot of legal things in order.
- SoJang Nim, for affixing all our boards to the wall after 2 months of waiting.
- Thanks to mommy Eri and Yoko for cleaning our orchestra practice rooms and office every week since March of 2019! Oh my Goodness, thank you so much!
- In-Kyung Oni, for bringing the spirit of play in our once very intense workaholic office.
- To Yun-ah for her excellent administrative work in connecting us to the Hyo Jeong Culture Admin office.
- David, for being with us, and arranging all the music.
- Mr. Choi-hyung Suk, for putting up with our demands and still giving us his smile the next day when we saw each other.
- To Ipeacetv for coming to record our performances, even though they had other pressing engagements.Thanks to Costco for the awesome Shilla brownies and to EMART and teacher Junko for the 2 microwaves and awesome deals on all the snacks for the kids.
- SS for all your spiritual advice.
- Mr. Song from Samick for even better quality instruments at an awesome price.
- My family, without their beautiful smiles and warm hugs and kisses, I wouldn’t have been able to live through a lot of the downs this year without you.
- To FFWPU USA Media Team for offering their help with the website.
- Hyun-hwa for suffering a whole entire day to help set up our new orchestra office.
- Brandon, for bringing your manly-masculinity into our office!
- Yae-kyung, for your eagerness to learn and help our office.
- Director Yun-jin Kim at AEWON for her administrative advice.
- Eriko san, you are our spiritual motherly rock in tough times.
- Thank you to all the Parents who complained, because of you, we made the program better.Thanks to all the parents who didn’t complain, you gave us strength to move forward.
- Cheonwon Gung Church, for the yummy Heaven G Chicken.
- Heaven G Burger for your food and extra salad.
- Dr. Yoon for making sure our project is funded.
- Cleaning staff, who cleans our offices at the Hyo Jeong International Culture Foundation.
- Mina at the front desk, for your support and thoughtful snacks.
True Mother We Love You Soo Much and we are so Thankful you are with us!!!