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Teaching Philosophy

In the competitive fields of music and music academia, it is of utmost importance that musicians are not only trained to be proficient on their instruments but also to be well-rounded as students and scholars. While teaching both lessons and classes, I apply several essential ideas to ensure that students can think not only critically and analytically regarding music, but also have opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in creative, artistic ways.
The single most paramount notion of music education is to keep all theories within the context of written, established music. Without a tangible representation on which the theories are based, concepts can become esoteric and difficult to comprehend fully. Sufficient, relevant musical examples can not only strengthen the core aspects of music theory but also provide an appropriate model for students to reference when asked to solve problems based on these ideas. Asking questions and providing problems that allow students to engage with the material on a practical level is a necessity to ensure that the lessons are concrete. These problems must reflect the lessons from multiple angles. For example, being asked to be able to produce certain kinds of chords, as well as being able to recognize them in a musical context. Approaching the lessons in these two different ways allows students to think in a problem-solving way, as well as an analytical way. Through these two types of understanding, students can recognize and apply these principles in a more rounded, mature way, as well as allow them to gain a better understanding of their repertoire and musical experience.
While teaching, I try to find opportunities to allow students to work cooperatively with others on assignments and projects. In the field of music, because so many projects and work opportunities are collaborations, it is tremendously important that students understand how to, and have experience with, taking on projects with other musicians. Whether it is as basic as working in pairs during class or writing a comprehensive analysis essay, working with others is an essential skill for musicians, and an opportunity for different ideas and perspectives to come together. Because music is subjective by nature, and sometimes hard to define, working with other students can subject them to fresh interpretations and ideas, which expands their thinking, and in turn results in more thorough work. Small groups of 2-4 students allow for a free exchange of ideas without anyone feeling overshadowed. I also understand the importance of cultivating a diverse and inclusive classroom environment. I am committed to embracing and studying the work of women composers, as well as composers of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities, and making members of those groups feel welcomed and represented.
Some of the most important projects and assignments a teacher of music can give to their students are those that are creative. Combining the concepts of music theory with opportunities to write, arrange, and perform music allows the teacher to break the typical lecture mold that exists in most classrooms, and gives students the creative outlet they desire as musicians. One such project is the opportunity to analyze a piece from their repertoire, and do a small presentation and performance. Not only does this give the students a chance to perform in front of an audience and work on their stage presence, but it also allows them to better understand the music they perform, which will aid in their interpretation of the music. This kind of project also shows the students what giving a lecture-recital is like. Assignments such as this help ground the concepts that are learned in music theory in established music, as discussed previously.
Another effective creative project is the opportunity to write a piece of music and perform it for the class. By giving relatively specific constraints on what they are supposed to write, students can showcase their creativity while simultaneously applying the concepts that they have been studying in class. Again, this gives the students a small performance opportunity and also introduces them to the art of music composition. This project and the analysis and performance project demonstrate the two different perspectives of learning music theory mentioned earlier. The analysis project allows students to think analytically about their repertoire regarding music theory, and the composition project allows them to produce tangible examples of theoretical ideas in a creative manner.
In a general sense, I would want students of my classes to effectively learn the core principles of music theory, adeptly recognize these same concepts in reputable pieces of music, write about these ideas articulately and concisely, and recreate these ideas in artificial and creative situations. These problem-solving, writing, and analytical skills are consistently necessary for students to practice and develop across different areas of music. By incorporating elements of their performance practices, students can relate the material to their instrument practices, which, as stated before, is one of the most important concepts of teaching music.

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