Over the course of my post-secondary education, from undergraduate to postgraduate, I have impressed upon myself that my education is only valuable if I can then apply what I have learned through professional practice beyond the classroom. That is why the touchstone of my teaching philosophy has always been to encourage critical thinking and problem solving over memorization and recitation. This has in turn helped me to establish a series of unchanging values for myself and my future career as an educator.
It is essential to continually promote respect within the school by showing respect in the daily interactions with students, colleagues, parents, and the community at large. I believe that maintaining a respectful approach can foster positive relationships as well as defuse potentially confrontational situations. Respect not only impacts the way students interact with each other, the staff, and the community, it also fosters an environment that generates positive learning, where children are willing to take risks and tackle new challenges.
Safety reminds us that all educational partners, but most especially the students, deserve to be treated as valuable to the teaching/learning experience. A successful learning experience requires that rules be established, explained, and consistently and equitably enforced. By following this principle, I believe that I can create an environment that encourages students to take meaningful and active ownership of the teaching/learning experience, as well as trust that they can safely raise any concerns that they may have to me.
I have experienced first-hand the positive impact of solidified routine and structure in school. Beyond instilling necessary habits at home, such as brushing your teeth and washing your hands, structure in the classroom encourages effective task management and goal setting for long-term success. As an educator, it is then my responsibility to impress upon my students these practices through organized lesson plans with detailed expectations for the students both within the curriculum and after its completion.
The goal of education must be to help each and every student achieve success to the best of their ability, while guiding them to become productive, contributing members of society who are ready and willing to give back to their community. As such, teachers must be open to collaborating with the students, understanding their individual needs, and reflecting on their own teaching strategies to accommodate the students. Through intentional collaboration, I can foster an inviting and accepting learning environment in which all can contribute and succeed.
As musicians, one never stops learning, be it at the student level or as a professional. As such, I believe that I can learn just as much from my students regarding my instrument, my technique, and my methods of teaching as they can learn from me. That is why I encourage my students to be as engaging and as honest with me as possible.
Each and every student possesses personal qualities subject to his or her own life experiences, interests and dislikes, as well as numerous other variables; furthermore, one’s musicianship is a direct representation of the individual student, encompassing all of the aforementioned qualities. My goal as a music educator is to ensure a style of musicianship that is both healthy and honest to the individual student. Once a solid foundation has been established, the options regarding repertoire and style of music are limitless. I do not train classical musicians alone, nor do I only teach contemporary and/or pop musicians; rather, I simply teach musicians.
Sing and/or learning an instrument is a full-body activity – albeit a sport. It requires a conscious attention to posture and breathing, as well as the sound. With that in mind, I want to ensure that my students are aware of their bodies and the corresponding sensations they feel, as well as trust those sensations. My motto for healthy performance is “practice safe, conscious music making.” Listen to your body, not just the sound. As long as one is aware of what his or her body is doing while performing, there should never have to be any worry about the sound. The preparation before making the actual sound is what is most important; the sound which follows is just what is to be expected at that point.
At its most basic level, making music is about communication. Every voice and every performer have something to offer; therefore, I choose to harness those individual qualities to cultivate the voice to the best of the student’s abilities. A basic but firm understanding of how the instrument functions should be established first and foremost; however, this does not mean that one cannot practice good technique and appropriate interpretation simultaneously. If the student can express him or herself without judgment while under the supervision of the instructor, the possibilities available to them are limitless.
No matter how in-depth or critical one’s analysis of the performance becomes, one must never forget that music is an artform: an expression of emotion and being able to create new experiences through sound and collaboration. I consider the opportunity to share my ideas and to learn from my students to be a privilege, and I gladly welcome anyone wishing to study with me to be a part of that experience.