My Teaching Philosophy

I follow six main tenets in the education of my students. These have been created from observation during my years of teaching music and my research in education at Umass.

First, students need autonomy. We should learn exactly what we want to learn. The instructor should help guide the process, teaching proper technique to make sure students avoid injury, and helping students learn the best ways to practice so they are sure to have a meaningful learning experience.

Second, people learn better in community. I work to create communities of practice for students to share and test what they learn. If a student is an introvert, even the small community of practice between student and teacher is valuable to a full learning experience, which is why traditional teacher models have been replaced with critical pedagogical and student-centered models in which student and teacher have a more equal relationship.

Third, creativity is essential! Students create music, write songs, and are encouraged to find their own rhythm. Even students that never aspire to create anything of their own need to explore their creativity in the interpretation and expression of the music they play. Studies have shown that creativity is a stronger indicator of future success than IQ.

Fourth, we should play, not practice. I realize this can sound counter-intuitive. The word "practice" sometimes has a negative connotation attached to it, especially when we're forced to do it! We are, in most cases, learning guitar for personal enrichment, not to become professional guitarists - if it's not fun, then we should try something else. Music shouldn't be another chore that our overburdened kids are saddled with. And the students I've had who went on to become professional guitarists love to play!

Fifth, keeping the goal in view, we need to recognize all success that leads to it. We need to understand that even though we haven't reached the main goal, we have made progress that we can be proud of, and are closer to that goal.

Last, it's important to be able to use everything you learn to enrich your life. Most teachers just focus on technique alone. I work hard to help each student gain confidence, learn more about themselves, and acquire skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives. On top of that, the simple act of learning music has been shown to help people socially, academically, and psychologically. Read more about the benefits of music lessons here.

Following these tenets, I work to teach each student exactly what they want and need to grow as a musician, an artist, and as a person.