I have been teaching privately for over ten years. My students range in age from young children to adults and every ability level. For me, there is no greater joy than being able to watch a student develop into the artist they desire to become and taking pride in their accomplishments. Much like a tiny seed that will one day grow into a mature tree, they require the proper care and conditions to reach their full potential. I believe in my abilities to provide a student with the necessary tools that will allow them to develop their own natural gifts which will give their music its own unique flair. Everyone should own their creative self and be able to enjoy & feel the music they make.
Major topics that I cover in my curriculum include: technique, rhythm, harmony, sight reading of notation & chord symbols, theory, ear training, improvisation, composition/chart writing, and music history. Various teaching aides are used, including: method books, recordings, and repertoire from a multitude of styles. Above all, I desire to convey the importance of musicianship as I firmly believe that technique is a tool and not the greater goal. I believe music should not be complicated for the sake of complexity only. Very often, the most aesthetic musical choices are the simplest.
My approach to teaching is designed to get students to think critically for themselves in a positive and constructive manner. This is essential in learning the art of practicing. I teach them the tools needed to assess their strengths and weaknesses, how to improve upon their weaknesses, and how to harness their strengths in order to attain the best possible results. Above all, I teach my students how to keep learning for themselves even after they are through taking formal lessons. These disciplinary principles will transfer over into all areas of a student's life: academia, career, sports, and extracurricular activities. Numerous studies have consistently found that music education improves academic performance, memory, mood, creativity, and speech more than all other extra curricular activities combined should they all be offered and/or taken by a student simultaneously (E.Glenn Schellenberg, Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto). A small sampling of tests that have been used to verify this include: the ACT & SAT, The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests, the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, and the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. In addition, studies have shown that music intervention strengthens the basic auditory perception skills of children with dyslexia and can help remediate some of their language deficits (Gottfried Schlaug, Harvard University).
I believe that playing music should be fun and nourishing to the soul, regardless of your performance level. Conveying this to my students is of utmost importance. In my opinion it will lead to a lifetime of personal drive and passion; not only in music, but in all facets of life. Giving students an opportunity to have real musical performances in front of an audience is a fundamental part of my curriculum and paramount to a student's growth as a musician. Music is a language, and like any language, we learn most naturally by listening to others speak, imitating, and assimilating. The theory behind language (spelling, grammatical rules, etc.) is taught after an individual has already been speaking at an elementary level for several years; even reading and proper use of words isn't conditioned until a natural base knowledge of the language develops. No one would would learn to speak naturally if, instead of hearing the spoken word, they were probed to learn sentence structure and the rules for the language. This, I believe, is the downfall of many music education programs. The focus is to teach theory first and expect the student to perform at an advanced level later on without ever instilling the importance of real life experience from the beginning.
Imporovisation is also a prodigious aspect of my curriculum which, traditionally, is a musical element that tends to elude many classically trained musicians. As a musician who started off playing classical music, I understand how many students can become overwhelmed by the concept of improvisation and how to devote oneself to learning such an art. My program is designed to unravel the mystery surrounding this craft. After consistent exercises that I have designed to be fun and approachable, my students are eventually able to improvise confidently at advanced levels. My methods of improvisation and composition can be applied to any instrumentalist or vocalist as long as an elementary level of technique has already been achieved and the concepts learned can be applied to almost any musical style, including: jazz, rock, pop, funk, r&b, Latin, country, blues, and many others.
To succeed in any endeavor takes time, dedication, hard work, and a passion for the thing you are striving toward; for younger students, it also takes parental involvement and encouragement. For this reason I strongly encourage parental involvement. Just listening to your child practice and offering them encouraging words, even while performing other household activities, is enough to strengthen their development.
“I would rather instill in my amateur students love, than knowledge, of music. Left with only knowledge, they will at the end close their books and consign the course to forgetfulness. But if they have learned to love but the smallest part of the art, they are likely to pursue some phase of it the rest of their lives.”