The most essential foundations for my teaching are creating life-long learners, developing critical thinking skills, and developing self-awareness. Music plays an integral role in society and helps to define culture. Music is also a vessel that helps students engage with other cultures, and people throughout the world. It is vital for me to cultivate an environment of inclusion to empower the genuine expression of individual artistry. While it is key for students to master skills, it is equally significant to note that there are no shortcuts, or secrets that will enable students to attain mastery in a short amount of time. I believe teaching is an important part of our society, and is the main driving force behind a positive progression within society. Teachers need to be able to lead students to excellent resources, and develop their passions to help them achieve their goals. While it is necessary to emphasize the main trends within music, it is also crucial to help students develop their own voice and truly express their individual artistry. I strive to help build enthusiasm to foster a desire to continue life-long learning, and a realization that there is always progress that can be made. Developing critical thinking tools and skills is another way that can ultimately help students become their own teacher later in life. By fostering a sense of self-regulation, and self-awareness students will be better equipped to address issues that are central to inhibiting progress. For instance, it is far better to have a musician realize when they are making a mistake, and be able to describe what caused the mistake than to simply point out that they were playing a rhythm wrong.
I use the experiential learning model to help accomplish the goal of gaining self-awareness, and critical thinking skills. This model is an excellent format that challenges students to reflect upon, and conceptualize new information in order to retain the information in addition to finding ways to utilize the information in context. Since experiential learning is a cyclical process, it continually enables students to review experiences in order to determine the best plan for progress. Music is a complex subject; by moving gradually, from familiar to unfamiliar or simple to complex, students will be able to develop critical thinking skills and be able to self-teach.
As a teacher, I find it is important for my students to be exposed to as many different viewpoints on one subject as possible. No single person can have all of the valuable information needed to master a technique. Through collaboration with other teachers, and researchers, and through incorporating masterclass scenarios into my schedule, I am able to expose my students to the best information available. Collaboration between me, my colleagues, and my students helps to instill the importance of lifelong learning and develops positive professional relationships. It is also important within music to develop social networks between students, teachers, and professionals to help students acquire different perspectives on style interpretation, performance practice and overall musicianship later in life.
Additionally, it is momentous for me to note that music educators have the privilege of teaching the whole-person. There must be a balance between all aspects of a student’s life in order for them to fully engage with the information being presented. Physical, mental, and emotional wellness must be encouraged in order to achieve a higher standard of learning comprehension. With an ever changing culture surrounding music education, and our society in general, I also find it of great consequence to approach challenges with empathy, and realize that everyone learns at a different rate, and in different ways.
To assess student learning, I look for progress opposed to mastery. Mastery of any form of music is hard to define, and almost impossible to achieve. I assess my own teaching in the same way and always strive for progress while staying open to new pedagogical techniques, and methods.