My Teaching Philosophy
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ― Billy Joel
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein
Conducting the 2020 Mid-Atlantic High School Flute Choir at the Flute Society of Washington Mid-Atlantic Convention with guest performers Wendy Kumer as narrator and Howard McCullers on contrabass flute.
I believe music education is vital for us as human beings. Deep within us is a need to be creative and creating music can fill that need. Playing a musical instrument also provides an opportunity for students to create something outside of the digital world. Playing the flute requires time in the present moment with a real instrument.
In a world where we are always looking for the quick fix and easiest way of doing something, making music does not fit that role. It cannot be rushed and is not quick and easy. For that reason, mastering even a small technical part of playing gives a student great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I believe playing a musical instrument helps the student learn the value of hard work and self-discipline.
Music also teaches a student to approach a problem in multiple ways when one way is not working. Over the years I have learned many ways of practicing that I share with my students to help shorten the time needed to master a difficult passage and make the practice time more satisfying.
I believe music teaches excellence. The student learns that just getting by is not enough. Getting 85% of a math test correct is considered good but having only 85% of the notes correct in a performance would not be acceptable for even a beginning musician.
When I teach private flute lessons, I want my students to:
Leave their lessons thinking better about themselves and their flute playing than when they arrived.
Develop a deeper love and appreciation for the gift of music
Learn to express themselves through music in a way that is unique to them.
Develop confidence and poise when playing for others (this often also helps with speaking in public)
Be able to play with a beautiful sound that is in tune
Be able to confidently play fast passages with ease
Be able to pick up a piece of music and play it without hearing it first.
Develop a strong work ethic and realize that the best things in life are achieved with diligence, hard work and excellence.
Learn the importance of interacting with others and putting your own needs ahead of others for the sake of the music
Some of the ways I accomplish these goals is to have the student use several different practice techniques from my “bag of tricks” to find the right tool to overcome a musical problem. I’ve also learned how to analyze what can be done to help a student achieve a beautiful sound.
Playing music with others is more fun and encourages students to build relationships with others. They learn that unselfishness is needed if you are to be part of a musical group. I encourage my students to play in school or community bands, orchestras or flute choirs. These musical groups are vital to help students find their niche and build friendships regardless of age or ability. I also hold recitals to help students build confidence with playing a solo for others.
While I don’t require students to compete, competitions help give students goals and the drive to practice consistently. They push us to do our best. However, I want my students to compete against themselves rather than with other flutists. I want them to instead ask themselves, “Am I playing better today than I did last week?”