I love teaching, or perhaps I should say that I love guiding students through the realms of music with new territories that were previously uncharted for them. I really enjoy teaching students from various backgrounds who show different abilities, skills and learning styles.
I encourage my students to think critically and to work toward developing and understanding their own musical intentions on their path to becoming mature musicians.
My teaching style focuses on identifying musical and technical issues that need solutions while simultaneously creating realistic challenges for the student, thus alleviating unnecessary frustration and garnering a natural progression of development. As each student requires a different approach, I consistently incorporate a variety of pedagogical techniques in my teaching method. As there are numerous modes of learning, I focus on four fundamental aspects: aural, visual, tactile, and metaphysical. The aural process involves active listening and absorbing musical demonstrations. The visual aspect consists of accurately interpreting the score while incorporating additional interpretive and technical markings. The tactile mode focuses on the sensitivity and execution of physical movement as that which contributes to a relaxed and effortless performance. The metaphysical relies on images and concepts outside the objective description of the music or how it is to be performed.
My lesson plan typically begins with technical exercises (scales, arpeggios, cadences, patterns, etc.), followed by assigned repertoire. Each lesson ends with a review of the student’s previously studied repertoire. All lessons focus on technique, musicality, improvement, and memorization. Students are given detailed prescriptions for time management and practice routines for each week.
While working on an assigned piece, the student is encouraged to develop an overview of the piece as we discuss major ideas in both the musical and technical domains. This overview includes the musical form and historical context of the piece. We then proceed to create solutions to any specific issues the student might be encountering. I often ask the student what they think about a particular section or passage. In doing so, I am trying to understand the student’s thinking process and perspective to better guide them toward a convincing and informed interpretation.
For the subsequent lesson I expect the student to perform the previously assigned piece/s from memory before assigning a new movement or piece. This approach consistently challenges the student to expand their internal library of piano repertoire. This aspect is especially crucial for those students seeking a professional career in music.
My teaching uses a sophisticated method of criticism adopted from my former pedagogy teacher. He referred to this method as “sandwich style”. This method consists of three steps: I first offer positive feedback in the form of constructive praise. I then directly point out the specific elements that need adjustments or corrections. Finally, I reinforce the initial positive comments of encouragement to end the lesson on a high note. I believe that all comments should be well-balanced to include encouragement and recognition of the student’s strengths and progress. Such comments serve to stimulate further progress with a healthy attitude toward music and learning. The student leaves each lesson with a clear understanding of the important ideas covered, the realistic goals for the upcoming week, and the organizational skills necessary to achieve maximum efficiency in their everyday practice.
I am convinced that the role of a teacher is to create self-motivated, independent musicians with a sufficient knowledge and understanding of their art to continue to teach themselves and others.