Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Hitting the High Notes

Victor Wing Heng YuenVictor Wing Heng Yuen is both a gifted musician and a talented educator. To that end, he is pursuing two doctoral degrees at the University of Kentucky (UK). The first, Doctor of Musical Arts, Trumpet Performance, should be completed later this year. He is currently doing his coursework for the second doctoral program, Doctor of Philosophy, Music Theory.

“The goal would be to be as diverse as I can,” says Yuen, who in the spring played with symphonies in North Carolina and Georgia. “I’m hoping to be a scholar, and I also like to perform. The end goal is to be a professor.”

He currently is a teaching assistant in both trumpet and music theory, working with music minors and majors. Dr. Jason Dovel, associate professor in the School of Music UK, works closely with Yuen, and notes that he is “very meticulous and caring about the students.”

Yuen discovered the trumpet at age 5. Growing up in Hong Kong, musical training was rigorous and focused more on the technical side. For the longest time, he just wanted to play trumpet in orchestras. He came to the U.S. and earned a Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree in trumpet performance at Eastman School of Music. In between the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs he spent a year in a brass instrument workshop as an instrument repairman, a field that continues to intrigue him.

When he arrived at UK and began taking music theory courses, his goals expanded.

“Once I actually got into the doctoral coursework and got to work with the theory faculty here at UK, it really helped me to transform myself into thinking that teaching students and teaching them well is going to really equip them to be able to do whatever they want to do,” says Yuen.

Yuen now has three years of experience teaching theory classes. “That gave me a lot more motivation to actually pursue the [second doctoral] degree,” he says. “The teaching part of music theory gives me a lot of incentive to keep going.”

Performance and theory blend together for Yuen and doing both helps him improve in each area. Performing transforms into skills for teaching, he says. Sharing concepts with students strengthens his performance skills.

“When I’m teaching trumpet lessons, I actually bring in a lot of the music theory skills that we learn [that help] the students to look at the music as music rather than trumpet players sometimes just play notes,” he explains. “I really want to bring in everything they learn in all the different classes; it should all come back to what they can do with the music.”

Learning, performing, teaching, and doing research are very fulfilling to Yuen. He is passionate about all aspects of music and acknowledges that he is driven.

“I really enjoy the community I have here and that is something I’m trying to build on,” Yuen says. “Part of what I’m doing right now at school is trying to get a graduate association started because somehow at the School of Music that was never really a thing. It’s my motivation to help my fellow students.”

He is building his skills as an educator and researcher on subjects related to music theory and the history of brass instrumental music. Normally, Dovel says, a music scholar does not present papers at conferences until after completion of the doctoral degree, but this year Yuen has already presented at a conference at Colorado State University and in July will be a featured presenter at the Historic Brass Society Symposium in New York. “He’s maybe five or seven years ahead of where most people are at this age,” Dovel notes. 

“Becoming a professor will definitely help me to have the opportunity to work with students who are in music seriously,” Yuen says. “On the performing side, I’m also diverse. My gigs are anywhere from historical performance practice, which relates to the symposium in New York, and I also perform classical, and I play in commercial bands.”

The trusted source for all job seekers
We have an extensive variety of listings for both academic and non-academic positions at postsecondary institutions.
Read More
The trusted source for all job seekers