NIS Stories

Meet the Staff - Wakaba Ueda, PYP Music Teacher

A teacher is instructing young students to create music with sticks.Ms. Ueda has been a music teacher for the PYP through some difficult times with COVID. It prevented students from singing, but she got creative and pivoted to voice acting (with masks on, of course!), dance and movement, and creating music with instruments. She also started the strings club, which recently made its debut on the stage of the MPH in one of the first parent-attended events since the beginning of the pandemic.

What is your role/what do you teach at NIS?  

I’m the PYP Music Teacher, and in PYP Music, kids get a chance to really be creative. So even kids that don’t have a lot of musical experience can still feel like creative musicians, and that is the coolest part about teaching PYP music. I’m also helping out in the ELC these days. This is a new experience for me. I support their morning activities, but you can often find me over there playing music and dancing!

Tell us about your path to becoming a teacher? 

I started in music at a young age by taking voice lessons. Actually, I was ‘discovered’ at five years old by an Enka songwriter and then started lessons with him at 12. From there, I started entering contests and recording songs, and although I enjoyed singing through my teen years, I knew I wanted to go abroad to study. At 18, I went to the United States and started studying environmental studies in Seattle, but singing was still a passion and a good vehicle for studying English, so I applied to the Berklee College of Music and started studying Jazz as a vocalist. I was overseas for a total of seven years and considered graduate school but got a bit burned out and came back to Japan. I then started teaching English and a little bit of voice instruction at a school in Sakae. When I became an NIS parent, I realized there was no PYP music teacher at the time. Mr. OK knew about my background and suggested that I consider coming to teach at NIS. I have since gotten my teaching credentials...and that is my journey!

Where else have you taught? How did that (did those) differ from NIS? 

As I stated before, I taught English at an Eikaiwa (English language school) and also worked at an Arts vocational school in Nagoya, teaching singing, arranging, and ensembles before coming to NIS.

What's the best thing about being a teacher?

Communicating with kids is the best! I like talking about music, but I find that I get a great deal of pleasure just listening to and supporting kids in anything that is going on with them, especially the older kids who often need to confide in an adult. Of course, the little ones are a lot of fun to talk with! They are full of stories and are so affectionate!PYPmusic_soranpractice

What is one of your passions or interests? What do you do outside of school?

I am a singer in a Jazz band, and we first had our first live performance just recently. I also started to take Spanish lessons. Why Spanish? Well, my daughter is studying French, and I speak Japanese, English, and Korean so I thought it would be good to take a new language different from my daughter and thought Spanish would be fun!

What's one thing you'd like your students to truly understand?

They are so creative! I’m working with kids that are risk-takers, and when they learn they can do something they didn’t think they could do, they really light up and discover their self-confidence. It is so rewarding and fun to experience this as their teacher.PYPmusic_piano

Instead of reading, I’m going to ask you what you are listening to right now.

I’m listening to Latin music! Maybe the Spanish lessons are influencing this, or maybe it is vice versa, but I love Latin music!

What’s your favorite place in Japan?

My favorite place in Japan is my hometown. I love my hometown so much. I live in Mihama. There are so many lovely cafes, seafood BBQ places, farmers' markets, strawberry picking, and of course, the beaches!

What is your favorite food?

Well, I’m a vegan, so I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables!