Bachelor Degree: Asbury University
My journey in music started at the age of 5 when my mother mandated that my brothers and I learn piano. I didn’t really begin a passion for it until the age of 12 when I first started guitar lessons in the Pittsburgh with an instructor who would become my most influential mentor in the area of music. He pushed me to follow interests in recording arts and my various pursuits in orchestra and making connections. I graduated highschool and went off to study music composition and theory, but soon left to do music ministry in the inner city outside of Nashville, Tennessee. There, I learned a lot about improvisation, making connections, teaching music, songwriting, and finding my own voice in music. I left the ministry to complete my undergraduate degree, and am now attending Asbury University to study Worship Arts and Audio Engineering.
My teaching experience began at the age of 16 when a few parents at the church I was involved in music ministry at became interested in getting guitar lessons for their children, so I began teaching guitar basics after Wednesday night service. Opportunities opened up for me to teach in other church contexts, homeschool groups, and even for a few of my friends at the time, which helped define my social skills in teaching. After moving to Nashville to do inner city music ministry, I began to teach kids there as well as a service. It’s not been easy, but the variety of situations that I’ve had to teach in over the last 7 years has helped me diversify my teaching style.
My methods vary from student to student, but a constant in my methodology is doing what I can to make the student fall in love with the instrument in their own way. Some students progress better with curriculum and disciplines right off the bat, while others need the instrument as more of an expression and an outlet, so I’ve learned to respect that. If the student seems to take interests in the disciplines of the instrument right from the start, my go-to curriculum for guitar is Mel Bay. If the student is having a hard time finding interest in the instrument through disciplines, I start them off with various ear training games to get them to make connections between the music inside of them and the guitar or bass as a constructive outlet. This generally creates a foundation that has room for disciplines.
For more intermediate students, I generally try to get in perspective with the music tastes that they have begun to develop and teach the foundational skills of the instrument within that context. Once a good solid foundation has been set and their preferences have been affirmed, from there I will begin to branch out and introduce new paths in music for them to explore within the context of the instrument. All throughout, these stages are sprinkled little help tools, such as finger exercises, secrets in how to get various tones, and tips that augment their natural playing style.
My teaching style is very organic and personal. Because I feel music is more of an expression before it is a discipline, I am a strong believer in giving tools of discipline as they are needed, rather than forcing a student into a rigor just because it worked for a different student with a different personality. We are all so very unique in our expressions as human musicians that even the same note on the same instrument played by different fingers can change the tone and resonance of the note. Though music theory and the abstract concepts of tonal harmony are wonderful tools to help broaden the spectrum of one’s creativity, they are not what make a musician a good musician. Honesty to oneself and being able accurately represent that in a musical form does, so my teaching style has become a search to find what the student wants to say through music and do whatever I can do to give them the necessary tools to bring it out of themselves.