Teaching Philosophy Statement
Recent studies have proven that learning to play a musical instrument is vitally important to a child’s intellectual and emotional development. Studying music improves math skills, promotes self-discipline and awareness, strengthens emotional connections, and exposes the student to a vastly diverse world of music and culture. Adults who begin learning an instrument after the age of 60 show improvements in memory, speech fluency, information processing, and other cognitive functions after only 6 months.
I recognize that every student has a unique personality and learning style, and believe that there is no single method of teaching piano. Piano study must draw on each student’s personal strengths and provide the tools to overcome any weaknesses. I emphasize a strong technical foundation for all students, believing that correct technique makes the process of learning and creating music easier and more enjoyable. For this same reason, theory is incorporated into every lesson, whether through written work or score analysis.
Some students are serious musicians, destined for a music degree, but the majority are studying for their own enjoyment or to fulfill some other personal goal. Students wishing rigorous training follow the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) program. This curriculum introduces students to a wide array of music from earliest Baroque works to contemporary pieces by living composers. Repertoire, etudes, technique, and musicianship skills are sequenced from Preparatory through Advanced levels. Many students studying for personal interest also choose to follow the RCM curriculum because of the well-rounded musicians the program creates. All students who study the RCM syllabus are encouraged to take regular professional assessments as a record of their achievement.
Students who choose not to study RCM, learn increasingly difficult repertoire, with a focus on musical styles and genres they find appealing.
Methods and Methodology
Because every student is unique, method books and other materials are not assigned until after the first lesson. After I have had the opportunity to evaluate the student and their learning style and interests, the most appropriate materials are selected. I believe that it is very important to present the student with music they find engaging and interesting without being so challenging the student quickly loses interest. Students are strongly encouraged to ask questions and to be an active participant in their musical education. Difficult concepts are addressed in multiple ways to facilitate complete understanding of the material. I believe in drawing on knowledge and situations a student may already be familiar with to provide context for their musical studies.
Beyond the Printed Page
Creativity and collaboration are fostered through group classes and ensemble playing. I believe even the earliest beginner should be encouraged to compose simple pieces. All students are given opportunities to compose their own music with as much or as little guidance as they desire. This creative process helps students to better understand the music they are reading and playing and fosters a willingness to take chances.
Studio recitals are held twice yearly. Participation is not mandatory but I strongly encourage all students to perform. Those choosing not to participate are still taken through the process of preparing repertoire to be “recital ready” so that they develop the skills and discipline necessary to master a new piece. Memorization is not mandatory but many students choose to memorize their pieces to showcase their abilities. This skill is also important for those taking annual assessments. At the current time in-person recitals are not possible. Students recorded their performances which were incorporated in a movie that everyone watched from home.
What Students Can Expect
I truly enjoy working with students of all ages and aptitudes. Working with such a diverse student population makes me a better teacher. I am constantly researching new material and pedagogical approaches to address the unique needs of each student. My goal is for all students to become life-long learners and music lovers. I give them the abilbities they need to be self-motivated to learn new repertoire and play creatively with or without printed music. They gain confidence in public performance as they acquire the discipline, patience, and perseverance necessary to bring a piece to performance level. They also learn to identify and appreciate different styles and genres of music.