My teaching philosophy centers around developing the following characteristics, for both myself, and my piano students:
No matter how far along they are in their artistic journeys, the pianists I teach should experience real growth in the learning process. These ideas and habits trickle down from my attitude and teaching approach to the way they understand and appreciate music. My greatest goal is that my students will adopt these characteristics for life as they pursue or continue their music education in my studio.
Passion – the excitement and hunger for music that gives the entire learning process a foundation on which to rest. If you hate what you’re doing, nothing else matters – who cares if you’re disciplined, curious, intelligent, confident, perseverant, if your music (or teaching!) lacks life?! On the other hand, if you love what you’re doing, that passion will fill everything else that you do. It’s important for teachers, parents, AND students to have a passion or excitement for music at the foundation of their studies.
Self-discipline – the ability to work efficiently and independently to pursue your goals. Once students reach a certain age, they should not simply be told (or forced) to practice, but have the desire to meet high expectations (and set their own!), and the dedication to fulfill those desires. Parents and teachers must work together to foster this kind of independence and work ethic in students. Self-discipline extends beyond just working hard – it’s focusing, prioritizing, time management, and working for a reason.
Imagination – if passion is the airplane, and self-discipline is the fuel, imagination is the pilot. Without imagination, passion and self-discipline are worthless (fueled airplane waiting to fly, left without a pilot), but imagination alone won’t go far (you can’t start with Cuban eights and barrel rolls; you have to begin with the basics). Imagination is the curiosity, creativity, and artistry that gives expression and interest to music. It involves color and imagery, and exploration of new ideas. It gives direction to passion and self-discipline.
Perseverance – while learning a musical instrument necessitates passion, self-discipline, and imagination, it also requires perseverance – the patience and long-term perspective to follow through even when something is difficult or even unpleasant. Perseverance includes the insight to see beyond the current struggle and keep your eyes on the goal.
Intelligence – the critical thinking, listening, and problem-solving skills to not only know something, but apply it in context. In music, knowledge and understanding of theory, harmony, and history especially affect interpretation of new pieces.
Confidence – passion, self-discipline, imagination, perseverance, and intelligence combine to produce a well-rounded, balanced musician. Many musicians bounce between two extremes: arrogance or conceitedness regarding their skills, or self-pity and frustration regarding their skills. But the most bold and beautiful music comes from those uninhibited people who possess both self-compassion in their defeats, and humility in their successes. Their music radiates the kind of freedom I want for each of my students.