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BA, The University of North Texas, Musical Composition & Classical Guitar
[2011-2013] African Hand Percussion Ensemble  Intermedia Performing Arts [2011, 2012] Composer's Forum Performances [2011, 2012, 2013] Classical Guitar Ensemble Performances
I love the many facets of music. My love of music, and my best practice, stems from a deep enjoyment of listening to music, as a consumer of sound. Developing my listening ear has been the most useful tool in all my years as a performer. I've played with academic ensembles in a choral setting, and done significant work in small ensemble classical guitar groupings. My most enjoyable long term academic ensemble, however, was the African Hand Percussion Ensemble, as while it had a very strict underlying structure for the cohesion of the group, it was deeply improvisational in nature, my favorite aspect of musical performance.
I began practicing music without a theoretical background, on piano, at age 8. My first exposure to music theory was in college. The written basis for the logic I'd already been hearing enraptured me. Then as now, an increase in my understanding of music theory equates directly to a practical application on multiple instruments. I believe this correlation between theory and idiomatic technique is the bedrock of any long term practice, serious or amateur. In my experience with academic ensembles, the fluidity a common vocabulary brings to a practice and performance scenario is invaluable for the cohesion of individual performers within their unit.
With beginning students, and even with advanced students, it is important to first agree on a common vocabulary, and asses the level of fluidity in reading musical notation. Next are some basic written exercises to correlate notation and playing in the mind of the student. This initial theoretical tie-in allows for a more substantial expansion in understanding in the long term, as well as a strong basis for the development of one's improvisational capacity. As for the development of 'chops,' a combination of technical exercises, sight-reading, and aural skills are used to facilitate the student's study of repertoire pieces.
What keeps one interested in playing music, in the long term, is the ability to realize melodies one hears in one's head. In my experience, this is the most joyous aspect of one's musical practice, and is the underlying goal in my teaching strategy. Some aspects of one's practice, like repertoire, are geared towards performing for other people. Others are muscle and mind building exercises that increase the fluidity of one's motions while sounding their instrument. The synthesis of these two schools of practice create a more fertile inner aural space from which one can draw improvisationally.
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