My teaching philosophy is grounded in my passion and commitment to engage in lifelong learning. While there are fundamental aspects of my philosophy that I believe will remain constant throughout my teaching career, I strive to maintain unconditional openness to learning from my mistakes, my students, and my life, while ultimately weaving these lessons into my day-to-day teaching. Therefore, I begin my teaching philosophy with the statement that my teaching style and philosophy will always be flexible and open to change. I learned very early in my academic career that maintaining a humble and flexible approach is essential to avoiding stress, finding joy in the process, and not succumbing to the pressures of ego.
While my teaching approach and technique may vary between private lessons, group and classroom instruction, what remains constant is the respect I have for my students as individuals and my deep commitment to good teaching, inclusive education, equity and diversity in music. I strive to develop strong rapport and communication with all of my students and to do whatever is necessary to ensure that real learning is always taking place. I believe my unique background in performance, pedagogy, and special education enhances this. In all of my teaching environments, I support and open and honest communication, collaboration, and the establishment of a judgment free zone where students are free to be themselves, and encouraged to explore and experience the learning process without fear (which I believe is a strong barrier to authentic learning).
In the classroom setting, I believe strongly that my students should always know the motivation and purpose behind standards I set for them, the topics I choose to discuss, assignments I require of them, and my methods for assessing them. Transparency is essential. In history and theory based courses, I place a strong emphasis on the development of good listening and writing skills as I believe they are essential to the life of a professional musician. I encourage and facilitate discussion so that all students are challenged to take ownership of their thoughts and opinions. I use a similar approach to my pedagogy courses, where I also challenge my students’ beliefs about teaching, encouraging them not to box themselves in with traditional and comfortable learning models. In class piano courses, I constantly remind my students of the role their functional skills will have in their understanding of music theory and in their professional lives. This is especially true for music education students, who may one day find themselves teaching in an environment where there is no budget to hire an accompanist.
In my private studio, I set high standards for practice and performance without dictating artistic choices. I find tremendous value in the learning process, and believe in autonomous, authentic, and experiential learning. I find value in the integration of concepts learned from history, theory, and ear training courses into the process of learning new repertoire. While I believe strongly in the pursuit of education for knowledge, I believe it is also my duty to prepare college students for successful careers. It is my goal to help students discover what they are most passionate about and to create opportunities for them to increase their marketability in the field. Additionally, I believe in and support the liberal arts, when implemented effectively, as a method of developing the entire person, enhancing critical thinking skills, and encouraging students to understand their connection to the global society. Finally, I maintain a strong commitment to my own personal daily practice as I see a strong connection between effective studio teaching, and the steadfast development of myself as a pianist and musician.
I come to every lesson, class, and lecture with a strong sense of preparedness, integrity, centeredness, and gratitude. I value authenticity. I strive to treat all of my students with respect for who they are as students, individuals, and adults. I take pride in my ability to quickly make adjustments in my teaching to accommodate learners of all ages, from all walks of life, and who encompass a range of abilities. I place good rapport on the top of my list of priorities, which can be seen in my student evaluations over the past several years. I teach because I love the process, because I love music, and because I believe in empowering others through music. I exist amongst the population of fortunate people in this world who truly love what they do. I strive to remind myself of this everyday and to never take it for granted.