Music Education

Music Education Philosophy

Note: you can click here to see my Capstone Poster from my Master’s program, which has other key elements of my philosophy. My music education philosophy revolves around three main components. These are:

  1. Music as a birthright of all humans.
  2. Music as a lifelong relationship.
  3. Music as a multi-faceted practice.

First, I believe that every single person has music in their blood as part of our common human heritage. I see music as both universal, in that it plays some role in all cultures (even those who do not have a word for it separate from other customs and practices), and also as invariant, in that all cultures use music differently and have different conceptions of it. I aim to bring this global viewpoint into all I do as a music educator, creating a culturally responsive classroom that focuses on multiple aspects of identity and diversity (e.g., ethnicity, race, sexual/gender identity, etc.) to help my students develop greater acceptance and celebration of the musical output of both their own and other cultures. In addition, I feel firmly that talent is a myth perpetuated in a way that holds students back from realizing their full potential. I believe that any student with drive and the right resources can achieve a high level of musical excellence, and I work to nurture this within them and encourage them to improve, regardless of whether they think of themselves as “talented.” I believe that music is a skill that we all have the neurological capacity for, and I make this a pillar of my instruction, both in the classroom and the studio.

Second, my sincere wish for my students is that they develop a lifelong relationship with and love of music. A key aspect of my philosophy is helping cultivate independent musicianship within my students. For my private students, I know that there will come a day when they either stop taking lessons or move on to a new teacher. For the young artists in my classroom at the high school level, I know that I either represent the bridge to their collegiate study of music, or the final stop on their journey through public school music education. Regardless, my goal is to give my students all of the tools they need to continue pursuing music long after they’ve left my class or studio. Whether my students have aspirations for professional musicianship or they want to continue learning music as a hobby, I want them to have the skillset to guide themselves through metacognition, self-reflection, effective practice techniques, and more. It’s my dream that many years after one of my students moves on, they are able to bring joy at a party by leading a sing-along on their piano, or relieve their stress through their solo music production, or take the stage and astound a crowd of fans with their band. No matter the context, a core element of my philosophy is to help my students develop this big-picture view of their connection to music.

Finally, I believe that musical excellence must be comprehensive in nature, representing the totality of music as a practice. I take inspiration from David Elliott’s philosophy of “Praxialism,” and work towards incorporating as many different types of “musicking” into my teaching as possible. This means addressing not just performance, but also elements of theoretical understanding, critical listening, conducting (where appropriate, as in my orchestras), composition, music technology, and leadership/entrepreneurial qualities. This holistic approach to music education not only represents the Colorado State Music Standards, but also reflects the skills that I have developed through my own life as a professional musician, and those I know my students will need and benefit from in any job in the 21st century workplace. Similarly, I work to incorporate the interests of my students into instruction, so that they are free to explore those aspects of music which are often neglected in the large ensemble classroom. In all these ways, I strive to make my music instruction a multi-faceted experience that engages all aspects of my students’ brains and creative hearts.

Classroom Experience

I have been a licensed Colorado K-12 music teacher since 2018, working at Frederick High School in the St. Vrain Valley School District. My current role encompasses the following: Director of Orchestras, Assistant Band Director, Pit Orchestra Director, Secondary General Music Teacher. In this role, I have worked to both revise and create curricula that best serve my students and community, while also reflecting the philosophy of music education outlined above. This includes authoring an entire semester-long curriculum for our Music Technology course, and also differentiating for students who have taken it multiple times while developing more advanced activities for them. In my first year, there were 9 students enrolled in a single semester-long section of the Music Technology course. In my fourth year, we now have nearly 50 students across two semester-long sections of the class. I have helped foster similar growth in our Piano class, which I also wrote the curriculum for. In addition, I serve as leader of the Advisory Curriculum Team, which oversees the creation and maintenance of our four-year Advisory curriculum. This program helps serve student social-emotional, post-secondary prep, SAT prep, and other needs, and has been recognized across our District as a model that other schools can follow to successfully implement an Advisory course. Examples of curricular maps and resources I’ve created can be seen by clicking the links below:

Private Studio Experience

I have been providing a unique approach to music education since early 2013, teaching both piano and violin. Through my lessons with a wide variety of ages and experiences, I have developed an approach to instruction that is focused primarily on my students’ needs and goals. My flexible curriculum is personalized and tailored to each student, empowering them to achieve their musical aims. For piano beginners I prefer the Piano Adventures series by Nancy & Randall Faber to assist in developing good reading skills and for introducing key musical concepts. However, every lesson is augmented with my deep knowledge of music theory and my personal experience of that knowledge. Through my journey as a professional musician I have learned how critical it is to have a solid understanding of harmony, and I impart this on all my students, no matter their age.

I am able to provide instruction in the following categories to students from 7 to 97:

  • Basic Note Reading & Beginner Piano/Violin
  • Jazz Piano/Violin
  • Jazz Improvisation & Theory (any instrument)
  • Classical Piano/Violin
  • Classical Theory (any instrument)
  • Composition (any instrument)
  • Performance preparedness for gigging musicians
  • Music Production utilizing Ableton Live or Pro Tools
  • Live performance utilizing Ableton Live