January 5

Ep 12 – Third Culture Kids, music as paint & the new IB Music syllabus w/ Liam Callan


In November 2022, I attended the AMIS Music Educators' conference to present the keynote address. I encouraged the audience to think about their journey to international school music teaching and to reflect on the unique stories that we each bring to our profession. We all come to music education from a variety of angles and inevitably this feeds directly into how we teach our students.

Liam Callan came up to speak with me straight after the keynote. He began to share a little of his story and it got my attention immediately!

That's because Liam is one of the few international school music teachers I've met that identifies as a Third Culture Kid (TCK). There is plenty of research into TCK's, including the seminal work by Van Reken, Pollock & Pollock (2010), and Liam and I explore what this means to him. This is truly fascinating!

In this episode, Liam and I discuss:

  • What it was like growing up with Canadian parents, being born in Hong Kong and attending international schools in Turkey, Abu Dhabi & Malaysia.
  • How he is approaching music education from the lens of a TCK now that he is an international school music teacher in Hong Kong.
  • Using the new IBDP to truly tap into student interests.
  • Building a jazz-harmony centred school band program
  • His 'paint analogy' for the how one might view the difference between classical theory and jazz theory.
  • His model for developing a music program in a small American-style international school.

This episode will delight all music educators who are looking for some fresh perspective. Liam is eloquent, fun and a genuinely nice bloke. He is clearly passionate about what he does, but carries a layer of humility and self-reflection to each of his ideas. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!


Get in touch with Liam:

Website: http://www.liamcallanmusic.com
Email: liamcallanmusic@gmail.com

Links to other content referenced in this episode:
BTS (K-pop band): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTS
Omar Thomas Berklee College: https://college.berklee.edu/people/omar-thomas

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Third Culture Kid