Get to Know Mr. Leung – New Orchestra Teacher


Mr. Leung leads the orchestra.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s is lucky enough to have Mr. Leung as the new orchestra director. I was able to conduct an interview with him and learned a lot about him, his teaching style, and his background.

How long have you been in the educational field for orchestra?

This is his first year teaching at BSM, but he was a teacher at McPhail once a week for three years about ten years ago. He is also a private teacher.

What is your main instrument?

Violin (and viola)

What made you want to do something in the musical profession?

His sights were set on music from the beginning. He was 8 when he started playing the violin; it came naturally and was an enjoyable activity. High school is when he started thinking of music as a more serious career.

From where did you graduate? Which school(s) did you attend? Who was most inspiring there?

Mr. Leung started at the University of Minnesota with two wonderful teachers. He then transferred to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and had wonderful, world-class mentors. He drew inspiration from everyone who played a part in instructing and mentoring his musicality. He was involved in different musical groups, such as MYS, which left a big impression on him. Because he was pursuing a performing career, he looked for a graduate school that had a strong program, specifically orchestral. Because of this, he attended Rice University.

Did you want to go into education right away, or did you start in a performing career?

His initial thought was to go into a performing career, but things changed. He developed a hand disorder called focal dystonia, which made him reinvent his music career and figure out what to do with the skills he had. His knowledge of performing and skills that he had acquired could not go to waste, so he started thinking more seriously about a career in musical education. He believes that any good performer should feel like they should pass those skills on to the next generation. He thinks that teaching is a better fit for him because he loves working with young and impressionable minds and instilling inspiration and a life-long love of music.

Who helped you the most growing up with your music? Did one of your family members play a big role in you discovering your talent?

His family played a large role in helping him find his talent as well as being a musical inspiration. His mom was one of the biggest factors. She got him involved in music but also did piano performance in undergraduate studies, which served as an inspiration. She made each of the children play a musical instrument through high school, but he was the only one who stuck with music out of the three.

Have you instilled music in your family’s lives? If so, how?

Mr. Leung has passed the gift of music to his children. Both his son (10) and daughter (7) started on violin when they were three. He expects practicing to be like homework, to get done every night. His son is involved in Greater Twin Cities Youth Orchestra (GTCYS) and participates in Sinfonia. He is also involved in school orchestra. His daughter does lessons with him and sings in the school choir. They both have a love of music, and music is an important part of the family.

How long have you been a private teacher?

Mr. Leung does both one-on-one and group lessons. He has been a private teacher for around 21 years. He started when he was part of the San Antonio New World Symphony and relocated back to Minnesota in 1999.

What is the most inspiring or favorite part of being in the music education profession?

The most inspiring moment for Mr. Leung is the aha moment – when students finally get something that they have been struggling with, and it clicks in their minds.

He believes that being able to with working one on one is getting to know student and teaching where they are and making it better is an important part to being a good and productive teacher.

What is the hardest part of being a teacher?

He thinks that having a poor attitude makes it incredibly difficult to be able to focus and work with the student. Students need to prepare for learning and have the right mindset.

Do you prefer one-on-one teaching or bigger group lessons?

He enjoys teaching both because there are challenges and successes for each group. He believes that it is beneficial to have both private lessons and an ensemble as a student. Intimate ensembles are good for working with peers in a smaller setting while having more responsibility, while a larger orchestra is where a student may learn her place and have the chance to listen to how an orchestra fits together as a whole. The team idea is in both the smaller and bigger settings.

How many people are in orchestra at BSM?

We have a pretty small group of students, senior high has 18 students, seventh grade has 7, and eighth has 2.