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MUSIC: Bringing Artistic Potential to Life

Each person carries with them a unique artistic potential. Music is the language that brings this artistic potential to life. My teaching philosophy is centered on equipping students with the technical facility and artistic concepts that allow them to pursue their uniquely creative potential. Each student brings a distinctive knowledge base, talent level, work ethic, and career aspiration to the table. My role as a teacher is to focus on each student’s goals and foster the knowledge and skills to achieve their potential. Therefore, I believe that a custom-tailored approach gives each student the best chance for success. Whether a student wants to be a band director, elementary music teacher, community band member, or principal chair in an orchestra, a differentiated approach helps support each student’s career aspiration.

SIX-TIER PHILOSOPHY: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

My Six-Tier Teaching Philosophy is based on core critical thinking questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? From an early age, asking questions is the way we learn about the world around us. Musicians, especially, are inevitably compelled to become lifelong learners due to the nature of the craft: the interconnectivity of music performance with musicology, theory, history, formal analysis, psychology, and other related areas. Most of the learning musicians accomplish throughout their lifetime occurs while practicing music, creating music, or listening to it. Therefore, I find it essential to teach students from a question-based perspective that caters to each student’s unique situation.

  • WHO: Exploring the psychological side of what makes each person who they are and how their mind is involved in the process of performing music.

    • Students will learn to harness and control their thoughts, anxieties, and uniqueness through visualization, mindfulness, and other techniques.

  • WHAT: Creating and assigning quality materials for weekly practice based on each student’s needs, abilities, interests, and goals.

    • Students will constantly be challenged with materials just outside of their comfort zone to encourage constant growth and musical maturity.

  • WHEN: Instilling consistent and productive practicing habits.

    • Students will learn effective and efficient practicing techniques. Becoming a responsible steward of time will benefit the student in all areas of life.

  • WHERE: Encouraging scholarly habits of researching the historical origin and context of the type of music being studied.

    • Students will obtain deeper levels of understanding about musical works that will inform their musical interpretation and performance.

  • WHY: Establishing short-term and long-term goals to provide both motivation and guidance for the students’ musical journeys.

    • Students will learn that it is much easier to accomplish tasks if there is purposeful intent in their minds and actions.

  • HOW: Providing guidance for understanding the physiological aspects of playing the instrument, with a focus on controlled relaxation over micromanaged tension.

    • Students will be encouraged to think critically about their own playing, which will heighten their musical thinking, listening, and performing.

FUNDAMENTAL APPROACH: Building & Polishing the Craft

My former conducting instructor frequently said, “The mastery of one thing leads to the mastery of everything.” Mastering a simple or fundamental skill before mastering more complex skills is understood and practiced in countless areas of expertise. In music, concertos, symphonies, and etudes are made possible through the refining of basic musical concepts, such as scales and arpeggios. For brass musicians, the most basic fundamentals are breathing and blowing air, embouchure control and flexibility, and articulation variety and consistency. These basic skills are the building blocks upon which musical expression and potential are built. I believe students should maintain a sharp focus on fundamentals and trust the gradual process of polishing their craft. It is my responsibility, therefore, to appropriately pace the introduction of increasingly challenging material in a logical manner. This process as explained leads to increased student mastery.

MUSICAL APPRECIATION: Versatility & Active Listening

My experience and versatility as a performing artist have made me a better teacher and allowed for countless diverse opportunities. I have performed with orchestras like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, along with a variety of groups in various genres like jazz big bands, Latin/Salsa bands, brass bands, and other chamber groups, such as brass quintets. Based on the evolving musical landscape in the world today, I believe it is vital to teach students to appreciate and gain competence in a variety of musical genres, regardless of their current career aspirations. Students should immerse themselves in music of all genres from around the world to gain perspective and inspiration. Active listening—critical listening of music using higher order thinking—is also a key component of being a musician. Not only does active listening influence a student’s growth as an instrumental performer, it also enhances their listening as an ensemble member and person in general.

LIFE SKILLS: Teaching the Whole Person

Although I have many expectations as a teacher, my ultimate goal is to teach each student as a whole person who will become a lifelong consumer of music. It is my responsibility to provide a positive, acceptive, and dynamic environment where students can learn and grow both individually and with others. Although individuals are music students, their identity is not solely student or musician. Each student is a unique human being that deserves respect, empathy, and connection. Therefore, my obligation to teach each student as a whole person requires respect, empathy, connection, and other non-musical skills that enhance the ethical and moral dynamic of the student-teacher relationship. I am determined to be fully present with my students, and to make a positive and meaningful impact that will go beyond their schooling continuing through the rest of their lives.

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