Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching grows from three influences:

1. My research and performance. My playing and active concert career are vital to my success as a teacher. My playing is an inspiration for my teaching, and my teaching inspires my playing.

2. My love for teaching in the context of human interaction. I derive satisfaction from my students and my subject. I am passionate about music. I truly like and respect my students. From the outset, I strive to establish a relationship with the students built on a shared passion for the material and mutual respect for one another. I work at demonstrating my passion for music, at being a role model as a performer, at being a student of the "text", and at being a person who treats others with respect. I love humor, and use it often in my teaching.

3. My conviction that disciplined and rigorous practice or study is necessary to enter deeply into any kind of creative work.

Our first purpose, whether this is in the piano studio or the classroom, is to respond to the text, whether the "text" is a musical score, a fictional, critical or historical reading, a recorded or live musical performance, or an observed discussion or speech. The students and I respond to this "text" by listening, thinking critically, speaking clearly, discussing, writing, or playing the music.

Our second purpose, connected to the first, is to find ways to more genuinely respond to the "text": how to analyze the score; how to technically play the music; how to get inside the short story; how to write more clearly; how to think more critically; how to listen more perceptively; how to discuss more genuinely; how to perform the music for an audience; and how to speak to an audience. We work together to find a variety of methods for getting inside a text or a piece of music.

I continually learn from my students, through their responses to whatever material we are studying. At the same time, I work at finding more and different pedagogies to help all of us bring our text to life. We all learn in slightly or sometimes vastly different ways: some learn better by writing; others by discussion; some by looking first at the big picture; others by beginning with the details. I wish to give my students every opportunity to connect with our material and to discover the ways they learn best. Some musicians first need to find ways to get the piano keys down and up in a relaxed and efficient way; others have more need to hear more attentively what they are playing; still others need to study the score more critically; and some need to work first at performing in front of a group. The pedagogies for teaching an effective First Year Symposium, Senior Seminar or Music Literature class are similar.

Whatever the course, I hope to teach my students how to think, how to listen, how to understand the ideas of others, how to develop discipline in study and practice, and how to interact with others around particular musical or intellectual material. Above all, I want students to know that a life lived with the materials and skills I teach is a richer, fuller existence.