To me, teaching is more than a job; it is a creative process and an asset to my own work through the development of relationships, articulation of my own learning process, connection of my practice to the next generation, and inspiration that my students provide. As a professional musician and educator, I believe that music is an embodied practice. As such, kinesthetic mind-body awareness is at the core of my philosophy. Exploring the foundations of music with students by drawing on Western and Non-western musical sources, I strive to inspire their curiosity, develop creative practice, exercise critical theory, develop versatility, and encourage excellence. As a teacher, I design each class to stretch the mind intellectually, the body physically, and offer practical exercises for instant creative experimentation. Ultimately, it is my goal for students to develop musical competence through listening, analysis, and technique and to inspire musicality and creativity within their own aesthetic artistic practice.
These are the values I use to structure my teaching practice:
· Curiosity is indicative of an inquisitive spirit. As humans, I believe it is our responsibility to learn continually because it implies an openness to change. I once read that the most dangerous phrase in the English language is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Unless we are curious, change is impossible. I foster curiosity in my life and the lives of my students through critical reading, creative writing, and candid conversation both in and out of the classroom.
· Consistent Creative Practice implies discipline at the heart of creative work. To reference a philosophy of Twyla Tharp, we all have inherent strands of “creative DNA,” and it is through consistent, disciplined practice that we develop an aesthetic identity. I believe my responsibility is to teach students how to prepare for habitual creative practice, allowing each individual to pursue their unique path.
· Reflexive Critical Theory implies that learning and artistic practice is placed within cultural and hegemonic power structures. Reflexivity is the concept that each individual possesses a unique relation to these structures based on their own circumstances. It is my responsibility as a teacher to discuss these power structures as they apply to class material within a respectful perspective that includes race, class, and gender, among other factors. This theory informs the way we as artists engage and ask questions within our communities.
· Excellence is the driving force behind the work we invest ourselves in. I encourage the development of personal and industry standards of excellence within the performing arts. Drawing inspiration from historical and contemporary leaders in our field, the pursuit of excellence must be developed in every area – from technique, to scholarship and performance.
· Versatility is an important tool in the life of a twenty-first century artist. While I am a proponent for excellence and specialization, I believe firmly in developing dexterity across disciplines as a performing artist. Balancing practical economic concerns with artistic pursuits is a challenge that should be addressed in the classroom. As an example, my own musical practice as a performer encompasses classical, contemporary, jazz, world, and dance genres.