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MM, Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins -- Piano Performance BM, Peabody Conservatory, Piano Performance
I grew up playing both piano and drums. In addition to my Piano Masters at Peabody, I minored in percussion and performed with the Peabody Percussion ensemble in Carnegie Hall. In the Air Force I played piano with the Washington State Air National Guard Jazz band for two years. I then transferred to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard where I played Tympani and other percussion for the Air Force Symphonic Band in Harrisburg. I currently play piano and am actively involved with the music program at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore where I have served and attended for many years.
Prior to studying at Peabody I toured professionally with various jazz ensembles, including competing for first place wins at the Reno (Nevada) Jazz festival for two years. At Peabody I studied with Fernando Laires and later, Robert Weirich where I excelled in contemporary music and difficult avant guarde performance ensembles. I was also a frequent guest performer for the Peabody Camerata Ensemble under director Gene Young.
In the mid 90s I created the Bachelor of Music curriculum for the Maryland Bible College. I also played piano for the Goucher college dance program and gave lectures on Music History, Music for Dance, and Rhythm in Music.
Through the years I have had a variety of students: both beginners; and also advanced who went on to music school. I also teach beginning adults, most of whom wish to play chords, sheet music, or entertain family. I have performed some of the most difficult music written, including the Ives 1st Piano Sonata, and selections for Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus".
For percussion, I have won solo snare drum competitions, and also performed with the Peabody Percussion ensemble. I have done studio drumming, read drum scores, and teach reading music to all my drum students. While I Peabody I was tasked by the lead Percussion Professor to help other percussion majors with their stick control and technique.
For beginning students I generally use some of the Alfred piano series, selecting those I think are appropriate. No need to purchase every single book of every level. Some students want to get directly in chords, while others wish to learn sheet music.
For students who want to become more proficient classically, I will usually use the John Thompson system, along with my own curriculum of theory and hand exercises. Also, I will use books by Czerny and early Bach tutorials. My teacher at Peabody, Fernando Laires was a student of Isidor Philipp (who himself was of the school of Chopin and Lizst) and as a result I teach the independence, relaxed form, and energy conservation of their schools of technique.
For percussion I focus on rudiments, and stick control. When teaching drum set, I teach keeping time, fills, and cross-sticking. I use the Jim Chapin course for limb independence.
I combine high expectations with patience and friendly encouragement. Students will rise to excellence, often because they do not know how difficult something is. I focus a great deal on muscle memory, and encourage that new pieces be learned initially at a slow tempo, and hands separately. This enables the mind and body to learn and retain at the same time. Also, since one hand is always dominant, this allows the weaker hand to grow and learn independence. That causes both sides of the brain to learn together. I do not rely heavily on exercises or drills, but prefer to find pieces that will musically teach the needed techniques.
That being said, I do occasionally use portions of training etudes by Czerny, Isidor Philipp, and others as needed. However, I believe that technically problems and needs almost always have musical answers. Again, for percussion, I also focus on slow training, stick control, and rhythmic exercises. For advanced drummers, I train with poly rhythms, odd meters, and linear patterns.
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