All learning is a journey of self-understanding. Awakening a thirst for continual personal growth and discovery and is vital for students to become their own teachers. By providing the tools and experiences to facilitate their own learning, I teach to promote healthy, independent, expressive, and compassionate life-long learning. I am a student first and foremost, and I am constantly learning with and from students. The learning experiences we share shape not only our musical endeavours, but the way we comprehend and live our lives. Through music, not only do we come to better understand ourselves, but we help others to do the same.
All people have the potential for understanding and experiencing music on a deep, emotional level. Such emotional understanding resonates far beyond the practice room or concert hall. Helping students open their hearts and souls in a musical context not only helps them become more self-aware, sensitive human beings but uncovers their potential to inspire emotional insight in others. I challenge students search for the expressive meaning behind each note, phrase and composition through directed listening, considered performance preparation and improvisation.
Music is communication. As well as uncovering our own expressive voice, we must constantly improve our ability to listen to others. Music teaches us to become more sensitive and attuned to others and their needs and cultivates the ability to be flexible and responsive. While in music-making this translates into dynamic, engaging performances in life it helps us become better human beings.
Giving students the opportunity to engage emotionally with music and each other requires a safe, trusting space. A learning environment that values openness, vulnerability and trust and encourages experimentation and allows failure is essential to allowing each person the ability to express themselves without fear. Living and working in the realm of the soul requires not only listening to others, but also to the self. Reflection and contemplation are requisite traits for all students to develop and practice. I encourage students to look within, to develop personal integrity, personal standards, and ideals by which to live their lives.
Setting high expectations for students engenders an understanding of professionalism and cultivates a sound personal work ethic. By setting achievable, challenging goals students learn to plan their own learning in this way, always striving for improvement. Through providing constant, exceptional musical experiences I hope to guide my students toward not only becoming better musicians, but also better learners, citizens and human beings.
People who are thoughtful, open and sensitive while charged with a desire for improvement cannot help but aim for excellence. Success is a byproduct of this journey of the self, not the destination. Through directing students’ attention toward a quality learning process, the end result will inevitably be valuable. By engaging students in exceptional rehearsals and other learning opportunities I will provide an exciting experience they will strive to replicate for themselvbes. With this in mind, my work is focussed on providing high quality learning experiences for students on every step of the journey toward a performance, not just on stage.
For more of my thoughts and reflections on teaching visit my blog.