Staff Focus: Nick Adgemis – Head of Performing Arts

Written by Nadine Runkel (POP Liaison Officer)

Nick Adgemis will be the new Performing Arts Director for both Pudong Campuses, starting in August 2017. Although Nick is a well-know figure at CP where he has been the Head of the Performing Arts Department for the last 3 years, some of our ECE and Primary parents may only know him through our events at RP, where he is usually in charge of the stage programme. While Nick is always busy, I managed to catch him during a quick morning break to ask him a few questions.

Nick, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and congratulations on your recent appointment to Performing Arts Director! Let’s get right to it – I have a few questions for you…

Where are you from and how long have you been in Shanghai?
Nick: I am originally from Melbourne, Australia and have been here for four years.

What was your career path prior to becoming Head of Performing Arts Secondary at YCIS?
Nick: I was teaching Music in Australia and the UK, and I also hold a Post-Graduate Diploma in TESOL.

What do you look forward to when you come to school? 
Nick: Quite simply – Making music with students!

How many instruments do you play and which is your favourite? What is your least favourite?
Nick: Officially, I play two instruments, the bass and the saxophone. I studied electric bass and majored in Jazz Performance. Additionally, I am a self-taught saxophone player and have been playing for three years now. For classroom purposes I am also able to play a little bit of piano, drums, guitar and clarinet. I would have to say – at the moment – my favorite instrument is the tenor saxophone. As opposed to the bass, it can be a stand-alone instrument and if you’re just playing on it you can experiment more with the sax. Coincidentally, my least favorite instrument would probably be the soprano saxophone. Even though I own one, I don’t enjoy the sound of it and its high pitch, and it’s just not as fun to play, because it’s very short.

Let’s talk about what the new school year might bring and what your vision for the Music programme is. How will your role be different?
Nick: For starters, I will be doing less teaching and more overseeing. I will be overseeing all events, the new Upper Primary / Lower Secondary Music Teacher, as well as the rest of the Music and Drama team. Furthermore, I will help to oversee the IIIP and the Music curriculum from ECE to Secondary, as well as the orchestras, choirs, violin programme, productions and after school activities.

My biggest goal here and my reason for getting into teaching is to see the students’ love for music and their consideration to maybe have music as a career. This is hands down also the most enjoyable part of my career and inspires and motivates me. In overseeing both campuses now – I feel like I can even reach out to the Year 1s and give them a grasp that Music can be a career.

I would love to see an extension of the music programme, in that there are options at the end of the violin programme, that more people try to take up other instruments as well. I feel like kids should be able to try different instruments, we should be able to give them broader options for trying different instruments. Maybe in the near future we could have an instrument base or a loan programme that enables children to try one instrument per semester. They could borrow it through our library, use it and give it a go. You might develop a love for an instrument that you never would have seen coming. This is, of course, quite an endeavor regarding instrument maintenance, but certainly doable and something that can be built up over the years.

“Don’t try to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and annoys the pig” How would you respond to this?
Nick: All pigs can learn to sing – but in all seriousness, if a child would come and say “No use, I can’t sing” I would tell them: “Having an amazing voice is a gift, but everyone can learn to sing and enjoy it.”

Do you have any final words of advice for our students or parents?
Nick: I would always encourage them to enjoy Music, music is not a competition. We have great programmes here at YCIS and, for example, we have a pretty inclusive Rock Band Programme. Think about it, give it a try – is this something that you really love or could learn to love and then give it time. That is the most valuable thing you can give anything – your time! I think there is nothing more disappointing than people who don’t give it the time of day to develop. I also never shy away from telling the students: “If you ever want to consider music as a career, remember that you will spend the majority of your days on this – it’s up to you to decide if that is appealing or worrying. And remember – there are careers in Music that are not teaching or being a Rock Star.