Statement of Teaching Philosophy
I am committed to shifting the traditionally exclusive narrative of Western music practice to incorporate innovative and engaging teaching pedagogies to welcome newer, larger bodies of participants in music classes. As music teaching methods become more inclusive, interdisciplinary, and multicultural, classically oriented ensemble models must not only change to reflect the values, interests, and goals of their members, but also become more equitable, responsive, and collaborative spaces for musicians of a range of skills, experience levels, and identities. The aims of such such approaches include inviting greater cross-cultural competency, social awareness, and musical reactivity — with the aid of new technologies to create points of access for all.
A thriving, pluralistic, tolerant, and free society depends on artists to serve important roles in shaping discourse. As an educator, I hope to create a microcosm of democratic society in the music classroom by facilitating students’ exploring, redefining, and realizing their potential in engaging, collaborative environments. I seek to motivate students with inspiration rather than intimidation, empower them to create instead of merely imitate, and encourage them to seek success rather than fear failure. Drawing strategies from Music Learning Theory, Kodály, and Dalcroze methodologies allows for a synergistic pedagogy that acknowledges different yet complementary philosophical perspectives and instructional practices. Each student’s learning needs uniquely reflect their life experiences, and all students have the potential to succeed in music. I strive to teach for socially and culturally inclusive ends to ensure students discover inroads to personal and shared successes. Every student has the right to a comprehensive music education, and I believe in valuing music’s place in K-12 and university curricula as an interdisciplinary practice that can prepare informed, sensitive citizens for a globalizing world. Students should have the opportunity to approach music through their preferred medium and style in ways that represent their own identities and bring a “music for all” vision into reality.
When preparing repertoire with ensembles, increased knowledge, flexibility, and growth over time is valued as much as the final product. Rehearsals should give students the chance to exercise different intelligences and modes of creativity if they are to become independent, self-actualizing artists, while concertizing provides both a tangible goal and opportunities to develop skills associated with live performance. My experiential philosophy of music learning aims to wed the formalist view of music’s sonic value while exploring its cultural, historical, and social contexts, all while inviting students to recognize the various roles music plays in their lives. A mix of formal and informal teaching strategies is meant to cultivate in students the ability and confidence to dictate the shape of their involvement in music beyond my class or ensemble.
Many parameters of musical progress and achievement are objectively assessable. In singing settings, visual cues such as physical alignment, tension in the jaw, tongue, or neck, and the body’s engagement with the breathing process are directly observable aspects that can be compared with science-based knowledge of healthy technique. Teaching a student to self-monitor aural signifiers such as breathing audibility, phonation pressure, resonance placement, and aperture modification is a way of turning responsibility and ownership of singing technique over to the student. Musical achievement can take myriad assessable forms, including in-class performance, improvisation, and listening-based activities that include activities such as transcription, harmonic dictation, and analyzing recordings. Student-directed portfolio projects that include composing, arranging, recording, and self-reflection can constitute long-term, aggregate measures of student growth. Across all cases, the goal of assessment is to improve instruction by informing instruction in ways that better meet individual learning needs and interests.
Making music is a fundamentally human way of learning, knowing, and expressing. As humans, sharing music enhances our capacity for achieving “harmony through harmony” by discovering intersectionality within individual expression. My primary aim is less that my students pursue professional music careers and more that they use their musical awareness to lead a life marked by deepened curiosity, empathy, and mindful self-determination.