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BA, Bard College, Music
Nesuhi Ertegun Scholarships in Jazz —Bard College 2016 Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle Award in Composition —Bard College 2017 Margaret Creal Shafer Prize in Performance —Bard College 2018
My relationship with music making began at the age of 7 when I begrudgingly agreed to take piano lessons at the nudging of my parents. In the first lesson, my teacher taught me the theme from The Simpsons, and I was sold. It would be years before I would actually become competent at turning notes on a page into something musically expressive, but that day I went home knowing I had found something special, and that inertia has carried me to where I am today. Since then, I switched my specialty to the saxophone, went to college to study performance and composition with a specialty in jazz, and moved to New York where I currently reside. I'm excited to be here creating music, performing it, and teaching it however I can.
I started teaching music in college through my babysitting network. When the mothers and fathers of the children I cared for found out that I played piano and woodwinds, many of them asked if I would also give their kids private lessons. Having a knack with kids and with music, my music teaching practice quickly blossomed in that small town. I have found that while it's important to keep kids sharp in their ability to read music on the page, it is at least as important to engage their creativity off the page. For me this means sourcing simple playing material from songs in their lives, from TV and movies, to YouTube, etc. And while my experience has mostly been with beginners, I'm also equipped and excited to teach more advanced students as well.
When I teach beginners, I put my faith in the Hal Leonard Standard of Excellence series for woodwinds. For Pianist, the Suzuki series is quite good, as well as A Dozen A Day and the tried and true Mikrokosmos of Bela Bartok. For more advanced players, I like to work within their preferred style, ie R&B, Rock, Classical, but also find it important draw relevant material from other styles like Jazz and non-Western music. But regardless of who I'm teaching, it is important to me that I be non-directive, that is, to lead the student in the direction of discovery. Rarely do I just give away an answer when I know the student can work it out, at least partially, on their own. That's the kind of learning that sticks.
My teaching style is seasoned but spontaneous. By that I mean that at this point I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. I have a proven repertoire of exercises and advice that have helped students and will continue to do so. But every student has a unique set of needs, so I am excited to throw away the 'play book' at the first sign that it's not working. I am a jazz musician after all, so I feel that I'm in my element when I'm improvising. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished as a teacher than tossing out a lesson plan and finding a better solution in real time.
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