My teaching encompasses a variety of musical skills, including composition, performance, theory and history. As a composer, I believe that without the merger of all these media, the language of music is unbalanced and can potentially sway toward the overly intellectual or creatively unchallenged. Some curricula separate these elements; however, as musicians, we draw on these various musical experiences in tandem, recognizing how each subject reinforces the others.
To prepare students for what is required of musicians and critical thinkers, I provide students with tools to think about these seemingly separate aspects of music simultaneously. In addition to following the more traditional music curriculum where the student takes theory and ear training, history, piano, and their primary instrument and/or specialty, I synthesize these “independent” subjects into each class by taking various slants using each musical skill.
By actively practicing what I encourage my students to do, students discover a fundamental skill for music and scholarship: how to learn through doing. Teaching students how to ask questions and find solutions is more valuable then teaching textbook facts. In creative fields, the answer is most always found in the question. If a sincere answer is to be discovered, the student can be the only one to ask the question. I help promote asking questions by explaining to students why I give them certain assignments, by discussing solutions I have found and by encouraging students to work and communicate together. Teaching demands dedication similar to that of writing music and playing an instrument. I believe that a balance between being a musician and a teacher strengthens knowledge and encourages inquiry on behalf of both student and the teacher. The most successful atmosphere for the student and teacher exists when both parties are thinking, creating and being stimulated by one another’s ideas and artistic solutions.