June 14

EP. 44 – Finding your community as an international school music teacher w/ Desta Olds


Desta Olds is a Performing Arts Teacher at the International School of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Desta joins the long list of cellists that we've had on the MTIIS podcast - this is purely a coincidence of course 😅!

Originally from the USA, Desta worked in South Korea and Hong Kong before joining ISPP a few years ago. Desta came to the recent Big Gig Japan (hosted by Canadian Academy Kobe and delivered by the team at Musical Futures International and MTIIS) and was such a vibe! She was a fantastic presence at the event and we wanted you all to meet her as well!

In this episode, we explore:

  • what it's like to live and work in Phnom Penh, including the post-genocide development that is happening in the city and country.
  • the flourishing Arts scene in Cambodia since the terrible genocide.
  • Desta's role as a Performing Arts teacher, including why she loves the drama teaching element of her role.
  • how Desta came to love teaching choir (as a strings-centric teacher) and how having her own singing lessons has been a game-changer!
  • how Desta has found community in each location she has worked, including some top tips for single people working away from their home country.
  • why it can be valuable to have friends outside of work.
  • the importance of connecting with local musicians and the local music scene as an international school music teacher. This links directly to our MTIIS community principles found here.

A mega thanks to Desta for sharing her insights in this episode! See below for lots of links and ideas, including Desta's amazing blog chronically her international school music teaching journey so far.


Get in touch with Desta:

Links and resources from this episode:

Episode Sponsor

Thank you to the episode sponsor Trinity College London. It can sometimes be tricky to navigate the world of music exams for international school students - but Trinity College London love to help make this whole process a lot easier!

Trinity works worldwide to support the music education of hundreds of thousands of students with assessments across a wide spectrum of styles, including Classical, Jazz, Rock & Pop and theory of music. 

If you’re looking for music exams for your students that are super flexible, learner-centred and come with plenty of local on-the-ground support, then Trinity College London could be the perfect option for your international school setting.

As you can see in the image above, Trinity is kindly giving away their ‘Bitesize Theory’ eBook to the MTIIS community! To get your free copy, usually valued at 9GBP, head to https://resources.trinitycollege.com/mtiis

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Cambodia, Community, Hong Kong, Korea, Strings