||[Jun. 2nd, 2004|09:49 pm]
This is a tweaked version of my statement - if you folks have any comments I would be happy to hear them (please feel free to get nit-picky!).
As a teacher, I have a unique opportunity to connect with my students and show them paths that will help them to be engaged in the process of learning. In the classroom and in the studio my goal is to facilitate an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and open dialogue in which we can explore different types of music. I say we because I feel that it is important for me to enter the learning process with them rather than simply to deliver information to them. To better engage in the learning process with my students it is my responsibility to maintain an active presence as a performer and to immerse myself in continued learning about music and the process of education. I believe each student has the ability to make and understand music, and that it is my role as a teacher to encourage their own natural creativity, give them tools that enhance their skills and guide them as they explore different contexts that promote a fuller understanding of music. I see the process of learning as extremely valuable and have found that confidence, critical thought, and active listening skills are some of the benefits gained from the study of music that cross over into other aspects of students’ lives.
Effective music instruction should go beyond the mechanics of making music. Since music is deeply rooted in the culture where it was created, it provides an ideal opportunity for historical and cultural exploration. In looking at the musical work as an expression of its time, students will gain a deeper understanding of history as well as broaden their world view. It is important to give students new ways of looking at a musical score or listening to a piece of music. Becoming familiar with music terminology and theory allows them to be more actively engaged with the musical work. This increased understanding, coupled with improved technical skills, leads to a greater sense of confidence and performance ability.
When working with students of all ages in either individual or classroom settings, I often engage them in dialogue about the music. I find that information about the composer, genre of music, culture, contemporary art, and historical setting all lead to an enhanced understanding of the work being studied. I often include listening examples from non-western music traditions as they provide a unique opportunity to gain understanding of other cultures. Since I believe that exposure to a wide range of styles is imperative in developing performance skill, I encourage students to attend live concerts whenever possible. In depth study of scores while listening to recordings provides familiarity with the repertoire and gives the student tangible examples of the application of theory. I frequently use ear training activities and ensemble work to foster a sense of community among students and to encourage them to listen to one another. To increase technical skills on the piano I assign my students a variety of repertoire, as well as technical exercises and sight reading. To build confidence and familiarity with performing I often have class groups play for each other, and my private students are required to attend weekly studio classes where they play for each other and receive performance coaching. I have found that using this type of flexible and inclusive teaching method fosters student growth on many different levels and allows for a multiplicity of learning styles.
I hope that as a teacher I can help students to find connections; connections between the music and it’s story and connections between the music and themselves. These connections will be different for each student I encounter, and I see value in the varying backgrounds and goals. I don’t want my students to leave their experience with a list of information and a standardized sound. Rather, I want them to leave with a heightened curiosity and awareness of music as well as an understanding of their own unique voice in relation to music.