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Bachelor Degree: Berklee College of Music
Master Degree: Boston University
Doctoral Degree: Boston University (ABD
Berklee College of Music Dean's List (all semesters)
Berklee College of Music Tuition Scholarship
Boston University Tuition Scholarship
Boston University Research Grant (2015, to Thailand)
I am a guitar teacher and music educator based in Flemington, NJ. In 2012, I graduated from the Berklee College of Music (Magna Cum Laude) with a BM in Audio Engineering and Composition. I went on to complete my Masters in Musicology from Boston University, where I wrote my thesis on non-worded religious musics set by Estonian contemporary composer, Arvo Pärt. I am now completing my PhD in Ethnomusicology, focusing on music that accompanies Thai kickboxing in Thailand.
As a guitarist, I have toured across the nation several times on independent labels, and as a performer, I've performed internationally at places such as the Lincoln Center or in Thailand. While I studied jazz and classical guitar, I consider myself a pop and rock guitarist by passion!
I have taught guitar since my time at Berklee, when teaching was a side-career that I wanted to explore. My students were accepted into TCNJ, Wiliam Paterson, and Berklee. I felt that teaching was a viable path and something I was passionate about. I decided to pursue teaching in higher education, completing my Masters and enrolling in a PhD program with the intention to teach in academia. I find teaching guitar very rewarding, and I love working with students of all ages and backgrounds!
My most important takeaway is that I want my students to leave a lesson feeling motivated. I had entirely way too many teachers that failed to instill a sense of passion about guitar. "Drills, drills, and more drills." Lessons would feel more like work than fun, and once I'd get home, I'd have the most difficult time finding the energy or the drive to practice, and instead, would rather jam with friends and play music that I wanted to hear. I continued on to practice regardless, but it was out of duty and not out of passion. Knowing those feelings and where they come from is key for a music educator, because it is important to know strategies to avoid replicating those situations in your own students.
I frequently incorporate the student's musical tastes and choices into their lessons. If my student is at an age where they can "jam" with others, we will typically jam together, or if they have friends at a similar age and skill level, I encourage them to have a jam session where I can listen in and participate (and I can spot-check my student for technique and ask critical questions about their performance). I think of guitar teaching less as enforcing rules and demanding technical skills, and more of a mentorship and coaching system. The student should feel enlivened by music, not defeated by it!
I work with one of three methods books: Mel Bay, Hal Leonard, or the Berklee Guitar Method. I gauge this based on the age, skill level, and their time available to practice. Mel Bay is the easiest method to begin, whereas Berklee is more advanced and moves at a faster pace. Sometimes I slow Berklee down and combine it with Mel Bay as a teaching strategy (Mel Berklee, perhaps?). I also am not afraid to use alternative teaching methodologies or notational systems, such as tablature and internet resources, as I think these are vital materials that are relevant to how people interact with, consume, share, and learn music today. It is important to be musically ambidextrous: chances are, in your band's rehearsal, your other musicians will share ideas using tabs, not traditional notation. You can be the best note-reader on planet Earth, but if you cannot communicate a language others use, you find yourself stuck.
I always incorporate music that my student likes to listen to, and frequently request Spotify or iTunes playlists for reference. I try to adapt pop songs into my curriculum (from their playlists) to teach chord theory and songwriting structure, and encourage students to write their own music.
I find teaching only to be effective if the student is intrinsically motivated to learn more: I like to find a groove or pace that the student feels confident and motivated to practice, and I tailor the lessons to address any problem areas without losing their attention.
I find short excerpts of lesson material to be the best way to teach. Short and sweet! For example, for a 30-minute class, three 10-minute exercises made up of: a lesson or two from Mel Bay; 1 new chord; and a pop song that combines the two. For a 60-minute class, we may spend more time breaking down these Mel Bay lessons; spend more time on that chord in different contexts (with some pair exercises with the student and I trading rhythm guitar-lead guitar responsibilities); and conclude with some pop music all the same.
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