Teaching Philosophy

fullsizeoutput_4866I believe that everyone is inherently musical. My job is to help children discover their musical selves through piano or flute study where we will not only learn the technical skills needed to play an instrument, but the expressive and creative skills that make music come alive, and help children come alive through music.

Each lesson is tailored to the student’s interests and musical aptitude, while emphasizing general music fluency so that they may develop a creative habit of playing and practicing music for themselves and others. Even though I come from a Western classical music tradition, I’m interested in a non-Western/contemplative approach: practice/play for the sake of practice/play, the importance of process, and music-making for community instead of competition. I believe that children (and even teens and adults) learn best through play, imagination, and creativity, so lessons are infused with the spirit of those elements, through sound exploration, improvisation, and composition.

I am equal parts teacher and musician. The teaching side of me is very interested in educational psychology–especially the learning process–and I continually try to improve my teaching methods through education and piano/flute pedagogy-related classes/workshops and education research.

I’m a piano and flute teacher, so I teach techniques that are specific to those instruments, but sometimes I like to say that I teach music at the piano or flute. What does this mean exactly? I train children to be holistic (rather than robotic) musicians who feel just as comfortable improvising and singing as they do reading music and interpreting a score.

Some learning objectives for my students include:
* Developing a life-long love for making music and sharing it with others without
fear.
* Finding an enjoyable process for practicing/playing.
* Learning creative and vernacular music skills (i.e. playing from fake books,
singing, etc.), as well as classical technique and repertoire so that they
might collaborate on musical projects with others.

I also believe that a musical home produces musical children. Children are successful in music lessons, and grow up to become life-long musicians when they see and hear their parents making music actively at home. Listening to recorded music is not enough. I believe that parents and other family members should sing, dance and play instruments for children from birth on a regular basis (daily!). Music learning can be lonely for a child if he/she is the only one in the home making music.

Methods and Materials

Each lesson contains some elements of the following: improvisation, composition, ear-training (audiation techniques), interpretation of repertoire (folk music literacy for young children; classical and contemporary styles for older children), technique, and keyboard fundamentals (including scales, chords, accompaniment, transposition, harmonization, and sight-reading). I strongly encourage students to bring in music they want to learn, whatever style it may be. My strengths lie in the classical tradition, and I love teaching classical repertoire to students, so much of the music lesson year will focus on this type of music. Classical music is fun to play and develops strong piano and flute technique. However, it is also important to me that my students learn the type of music they want to learn, whether it be folk music, rock music, show tunes, or jazz. I believe in a balance between exposing students to new and different kinds of music that they may be unfamiliar with (classical and contemporary-classical), and learning pieces that are familiar to them. In other words, my lessons strike a balance between traditional and non-traditional methods.

My studio is filled with instruments and books. I have a black Yamaha studio upright, an Alesis micron keyboard, a flute, a wooden flute, two accordions, two acoustic guitars, and miscellaneous percussion instruments. I am a multi-instrumentalist at heart, but only play flute and piano well–the others are fun diversions that we may pull out during a lesson (guitar and accordion are excellent for teaching chords and chord progressions, for example). I also have a small lending library of piano and flute books and classical CDs.