My Teaching Focus and Principles
Encourage Growth through Skill Development And Creative Exploration
I firmly believe that anyone can learn to understand, experience, and play music. The tools for this learning lie in developing the necessary physical and intellectual skills as well as cultivating a healthy spirit of play in the creative process, because learning music should be exciting! There is an excitement to exploring new terrain, and here in The Music Room, I seek to help students navigate the challenges and roadblocks that will occur for them on their journeys with patience, persistence, resilience, and willingness.
It’s not always going to be easy when we learn something new. Through my teaching, I encourage a ‘growth mindset’: that with time and attention, new skills can be developed. You are only limited by your willingness to work and grow. So many students, young and adult, have to dismantle the idea that they are not ‘good enough’ or 'naturally talented’ enough to play music. I believe everyone can create beautiful music, and that it is a skill, like any other, that can be nurtured and developed.
Therefore, I structure my teaching on two main pillars: we develop the physical skills required to navigate and play a student's chosen instrument (voice, guitar, strings, etc), and the intellectual skills to understand how music works through reading, music theory, and instrumental application. Then, I promote a heavy dose of creative play and personal exploration: students learn to improvise, listen closely to sound, and find their own connections with the music. These skills enable my students to find freedom and empowerment in making music and, as is my hope, to build a solid foundation for a lifelong love and practice of music.
Cultivating a Musical Practice
I often ask students at the beginning of a lesson, “How was your practice this week?” When I ask this, I am not asking them to detail the hours logged or the assignments accomplished. Rather, cultivating a musical practice is like nourishing a very special relationship. The relationship they keep with Music lives solely in the students' own hands. They are not accountable to me, only to themselves and their own growth.
As a teacher, I am asking to be let into the student's musical world. So, we explore any questions, difficulties, ‘aha!’ moments and accomplishments that came up for them during their practice that week. If a student had life burdens that overtook their capacity to practice, we talk about it and move forward. If they maintained a diligent practice schedule and are proud of their consistency and growth, we celebrate it and start on what's next. If they had trouble finding the time or tools to practice but have goals of how they would like it to be, we look for ways to bring that to fruition.
This is especially important for adult students. We don’t always have the time we wish we could spend on making music. The simple act of showing up weekly to a lesson is a big deal! It’s about supporting the student, keeping their musical relationship positive, focused, rewarding, and ultimately aligned with their life values and goals. Being a musician can be a lifelong journey filled with opportunities for challenges, growth and joy.