Unbowed

Florence Geffen Scholar Tammy Yi overcame adversity to attend TC and continue her studies as a music educator. Now, she's inspiring today's young violinists.

If creativity is adjusting and persisting in the face of the unexpected, Music & Music Education doctoral student Tammy Yi is ideally suited to “motivate and educate teachers to teach children to be creative people.”  Yi’s parents left Korea for the United States but struggled in low-paying jobs. Both their daughters were musical, but Yi eventually gave up violin lessons so her sister could pursue a concert pianist’s career. She taught herself guitar and other instruments and dreamed of leading the first Asian-American punk band.  

After 9/11, Yi joined the Navy, supported her parents and earned a bachelor’s degree, studying music education and violin. “I had lost so many years and had always struggled with traditional violin playing, but I was inspired to give children the self-confidence and creative freedom I’d never had.” Emphasizing the teamwork and discipline she’d learned in the Navy, Yi created an award-winning children’s orchestra and conducted it at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

At TC, backed by an Irene Geffen Fund scholarship and mentored by Professor Lori Custodero, Yi has created a violin program at the Teachers College Community School supported by TC Trustee Emerita Enid (“Dinny”) Morse and her daughter, Trustee Leslie Nelson.  

“Music teaches children about possibility,” Yi says. TC and the Geffen Scholarship have taught her about that, too. —Kelsey Rogalewicz

(Published September, 2015)

Published Thursday, Jul. 23, 2015

Unbowed

Florence Geffen Scholar Tammy Yi overcame adversity to attend TC and continue her studies as a music educator. Now, she's inspiring today's young violinists.

If creativity is adjusting and persisting in the face of the unexpected, Music & Music Education doctoral student Tammy Yi is ideally suited to “motivate and educate teachers to teach children to be creative people.”  Yi’s parents left Korea for the United States but struggled in low-paying jobs. Both their daughters were musical, but Yi eventually gave up violin lessons so her sister could pursue a concert pianist’s career. She taught herself guitar and other instruments and dreamed of leading the first Asian-American punk band.  

After 9/11, Yi joined the Navy, supported her parents and earned a bachelor’s degree, studying music education and violin. “I had lost so many years and had always struggled with traditional violin playing, but I was inspired to give children the self-confidence and creative freedom I’d never had.” Emphasizing the teamwork and discipline she’d learned in the Navy, Yi created an award-winning children’s orchestra and conducted it at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

At TC, backed by an Irene Geffen Fund scholarship and mentored by Professor Lori Custodero, Yi has created a violin program at the Teachers College Community School supported by TC Trustee Emerita Enid (“Dinny”) Morse and her daughter, Trustee Leslie Nelson.  

“Music teaches children about possibility,” Yi says. TC and the Geffen Scholarship have taught her about that, too. —Kelsey Rogalewicz

(Published September, 2015)

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