2016_AUG_Article 1 photoAn accomplished pianist, Xiaoyu Huang began his studies in China before coming to Canada at the age of 8. He went on to receive an ARCT in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music at age 12. As a performer, he has partnered with Canadian composer Spencer Tsai to premier unpublished works and has personal experience as a composer and arranger through involvement with choir. Now entering Grade 12 as an International Baccalaureate student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, Xiaoyu’s experience far exceeds that of an average 17 year old. He leads his school’s music society, does recruitment work for the Pansophy Education Centre, and teaches piano locally.

One of Xiaoyu’s most significant contributions as a community leader has been through involvement with Vision:Next Young Leaders Fellowship, a committee of leaders aged 16-25 who are active advocating and campaigning in the Vancouver region. Earlier this year, he also made valuable contributions at a Youth4Music community roundtable event. Xiaoyu finds passion in promoting the invaluable nature of music in youth development. After years of consideration, the Vancouver government has cut music programs from elementary schools as the result of a 21 million dollar budget shortfall. A program that only costs about $400,000 annually has been deemed as non-essential by the Vancouver school board. This neglect on the part of the education system will result next year in the first generation of elementary students who will not experience music in some Vancouver schools. Xiaoyu has been successful in raising awareness and gathering support for music education, which he claims couldn’t have been done without the help of Holly Nimmons, Christin Reardon MacLellan, and the entire Coalition for Music Education in British Columbia.

These recent changes are proving to have no impact on Xiaoyu’s enthusiasm for music. Through experience as a collaborative pianist, he views music as a ‘tool for people to connect.’ He recently organized an event in which musicians gathered to perform in an effort to raise awareness and funds for a friend with Type 1 Diabetes. This is just one example of how Xiaoyu uses music to empower others.

So what’s his key to success? Xiaoyu attributes an interest and involvement in politics. ‘We can do the most with our limited means through the political process, which is actually a lot more accessible than most people think.’ Music is more than just performing, it’s a means to an end throughout one’s entire life. Music also provides a platform by which we can advocate so that every person living in Canada has access to music education. Xiaoyu will ensure music is always a part of his life. He hopes to pursue a career in law to be actively involved in policy making as it relates to music education.