My teaching philosophy and educational goals for my music students has evolved considerably since I began in 1977. While each student’s preferred learning style is embraced and utilized—i.e., visual, auditory or kinesthetic—focus is also given to the development and combination of a variety of learning characteristics, as further aids to learn and play more musically.
My global educational goal for my students is to teach and empower them to learn for themselves. I aim to create new Masters—musicians that are knowledgeable and functional—rather than simple Followers who are forever dependent on musical assistance.
I believe it is important that students not only learn to read the written notational language of music, but also that they not be limited by it. Therefore, I teach chordal and rhythmic understanding in whatever literature we're working on. Additionally, after learning to play the score exactly as written, I teach students how to supplement the music by adding notes and changing up the rhythms.
With these goals in mind, I embrace the traditional Classical literature, but am also inclusive of other styles as well—i.e., Popular, Jazz, Gospel, etc. Students are encouraged to bring in pieces they want to learn, thus sharing in the ownership of the literature selected for study.
I teach piano, theory, composition and the art of music notation/engraving. While I enjoy working with my advanced students, I also delight in introducing beginners to the joys of musical study. A multiple-key approach for beginning students is my preference, but I often utilize the traditional middle-C method books as well.
In order to develop artistic and expressive performance skills, students are expected to practice daily—spending as much time as is necessary to conquer their weekly musical goals and assignments. Since most students are involved with multiple extracurricular activities—and sufficient practice time is hard to come by—they are introduced to the concept of clearly defined and deliberate practice in order to meet their short and long term goals. While the skill will be developed and honed within a musical context, it should prove most beneficial throughout the student’s lifetime.
By gifting students with musical skills and understanding, they learn how to learn any music they want, thus providing a lifetime of enjoyment in making music.
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