I believe that the very best eduction should transform the individual. As an educator, my role is to support the transformation of people, and through people, the transformation of society. In order to encourage this process, my goal as a music educator is to create an environment that 1) encourages synergistic thinking through a student-centered learning environment, 2) empowers musicians to connect with deeper and greater aesthetics, and 3) develops exemplary life skills that equip students with the agility and knowledge to respond to a culturally diverse population.
Within the classroom, I tend to favor a more pragmatic approach to academia that centers around a cooperative learning environment. This includes active participation, critical thinking, and project collaboration. I believe a student-centered, cooperative learning environment produces a more relevant and authentic educational experience. Knowledge should be discovered as opposed to disseminated. This process engages students in a synergistic learning process where they are able to learn faster, retain information longer, and obtain a more positive and meaningful experience. In my opinion, these learning strategies create better independent thinkers.
My approach as a teacher is that of a mentor; consistently balancing an environment of mutual respect, healthy student/teacher relationship, and a purposeful experience for the student. I try to call forth the aspiring student’s best efforts through acknowledgment, encouragement, challenge, and care. I balance formal and informal methods of assessment.
Music contributes to the enrichment of a society through integration, stability, and aesthetic enjoyment. Students should be instructed to value the aesthetics of music making, and further guided into creating their own worthwhile experiences. I believe this in turn will foster positive influencers and responders within their communities, as well as develop self-worth and value within the individual. The teacher is a major influence in sowing these seeds of integration. Teachers should share their passion for creative mastery by pursuing active careers as performers, collaborators, scholars, advocates, and service leaders in the regional, national, and international communities. Students are more often inspired by the professional achievement of their mentors.
The music teaching studio is a training program focused around the acquisition of both musical competencies and successful life skills. I teach a comprehensive percussion curriculum designed for students to achieve professional level competency in technical facility, analytical understanding, artistic expression, and historical and cultural knowledge of different musics.
With respect to successful life skills, the study of music requires a unique set of disciplines that when fully realized, helps mold the learner into an exemplary citizen. These disciplines include curiosity for knowledge and experience, mastery and depth of acquired skills, a global perspective, respect for diversity, self-confidence, collaboration initiatives, and professionalism. Students will grow in the aforementioned values through ensemble participation, both chamber and large, masterclass instruction, collaborative and teaching projects, and private lessons. Within these contexts, I ensure that students obtain knowledge and skills sufficient to work as leaders within collaborative communities. These skills include the ability to communicate respectfully, collaborate as a team, maintain accountability, generate new ideas, hold oneself accountable, and achieve a higher sense of accomplishment.