TAN Yuh Chaur Leonard

Associate Professor

Visual & Performing Arts (VPA)

Office Location

PhD (music education and conducting), Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, USA


Office Telephone Number

Research Interests
Cross-Cultural Philosophical and Empirical Research in Music Education, Performing Arts Ensembles (Band, Choir, Orchestra), 21CC (21st Century Skills)

  • Dr. Leonard Tan (PhD, MA, BA 1st Class Hons, DipMus Distinction, LRSM, LMusTCL, DipABRSM, AMusTCL)

    PhD (Music Education and Conducting), GPA: 4.0 on four-point scale, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, USA.

    Dissertation: Towards a Transcultural Philosophy of Instrumental Music Education. Awarded the “Dean’s Dissertation Prize”

    My Research Expertise

    • Philosophy and Psychology of Music Education
    • Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
    • Performing Arts Ensembles (Band, Choir, Orchestra)
    • 21st Century Skills / Competencies

    In particular, my research weaves three interrelated strands: 

    1. Cross-Cultural Philosophical Research in Music Education

    My novel contribution to music education lies in bridging the worlds of Asian and Western philosophies of music education; it grows out of my doctoral research and is part of the larger 21CC agenda towards fostering greater cross-cultural awareness relevant for the globalised world. In particular, I have a strong interest in the intersection of classical Chinese philosophy and American pragmatism, and frequently draw on them as sources of inspiration in my writings on the philosophy of music education. My vision is for music educators around the world to know Confucius as much as they know Dewey.

    I am working on an edited book, The Oxford Handbook of Asian Philosophies and Music Education (book contract awarded by Oxford University Press).

    2. Cross-Cultural Empirical Research in Music Education

    In addition to cross-cultural philosophical research in music education, I also seek to impact music education through a line of cross-cultural empirical research on 21CC such as creativity, as well as psychological constructs such as motivational goal orientations, grit, and flow. My cross-cultural empirical projects frequently draw on data collected from Asian and Western participants; I enjoy studying cultural similarities and differences. I often use my philosophical work to inform my empirical research - and vice versa.


    3. Research on Performing Arts Ensembles (band, orchestra, choir)

    There is scant research on band, orchestra and choir in Singapore. My research focus on educational and musical issues in band, orchestra and choir. My creative activities as a conductor contribute to my research on these ensembles; they ensure that my research remain relevant and useful to the practical world of music and music education, rather than theorise or philosophise “from the armchair.” I have also contributed articles to the widely read Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series published by GIA.

    Other Research Contributions / Impact

    • Editorial Committees: Philosophy of Music Education Review (also the Assistant Book Review Editor), Music Educators’ Journal, and International Journal of Music Education.
    • Encyclopedia and anthology entries with presses such as SAGE Publications and Routledge. Entries include correlational statistical procedures and their application in music education research, readings on Chinese philosophy, and ethnomusicology.
    • Reviewer of manuscripts: Music Education ResearchPhilosophy of Music Education Review, International Society for Philosophy of Music Education Conference, Springer Education Innovation Book Series, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, and Educational Philosophy and Theory.


    My Teaching

    My major teaching areas in NIE-NTU are music education and conducting. I also conduct and coordinate the NIE Winds. I enjoy helping students become better musicians, teachers and conductors. Consistent with my research agenda, a cross-cultural approach is a defining feature of my teaching. Readings on the philosophy of music education include not just Plato, Kant, and Reimer, but also authoritative translations of Confucius, Mozi, and Xunzi. Music from both Asia and the West are included. The goal is to foster cross-cultural awareness crucial to the interconnected 21st Century globalised world in which we live. 


    My Professional Work Experience

    • 18 years of experience conducting orchestras and bands across all levels, from educational to professional ensembles, including the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore National Youth Orchestra, The Philharmonic Winds (Singapore), National University of Singapore Wind Symphony, National Institute of Education Winds, school groups (Primary, Secondary, Junior College, and Polytechnic), and international ensembles (e.g., Indiana University orchestras and summer concert band).
    • Taught music at NUS High School of Math and Science, LaSalle College of the Arts, and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
    • Presented lectures / given workshops at the University of Hawaii, Kansas University, University of the Pacific, Indiana University, Colorada State University, Pueblo, and Nanjing University of the Arts.
    • Adjudicated in music festivals in Asia and the United States. 


    Awards and Prizes

    • NIE Excellence in Teaching Award, 2016
    • Indiana University Dean’s Dissertation Prize, 2013.
    • Indiana University Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2012.
    • National Institute of Education – Nanyang Technological University Overseas Graduate Scholarship, 2009.
    • First Place with Excellent Success, Winner of the “Summa Cum Laude” award of the city of Vienna, 2nd Summa Cum Laude International Youth Msic Festival, Vienna, Austria, 2008.
    • Gold Medal, New York Band and Orchestra Festival, New York, USA, 2008.
    • Gold Medal, Pacific Basin Music Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 2006.
    • Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Secondary School Certificate of Commendation, 2006.
    • Lee Foundation Arts Bursary, 2003.
    • St Margaret’s Secondary School Partner in Education Teaching Award, 2002.
    • World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles Conducting Scholarship, 2002.
    • National Arts Council Geogerette Chen Arts Scholarship, 2000.
    • Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music High Scorer, 1998.
    • Raffles Junior College Creative Arts Award: Kripalani Challenge Trophy, 1996