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Bachelor Degree: Columbia College Chicago, Teaching Certificate: Academic Center for Tutoring
Exemplary Student Award (awarded by the department chair)
Awarding Winning Composer (over 10 compositions awarded best score)
Outstanding Instrumentalist (42nd Annual Down Beat Music Awards)
I am an educator, composer, and instrumentalist with a Bachelor of Music degree in composition. Over the past few years I have been fortunate to share the stage with artists like Bernard Purdie (drummer for Aretha Franklin), Donny Mccaslin (Saxophonist for David Bowie), and Cassandra O'Neil (Keyboardist for Prince). While I love performing, my heart lies with composing. I work primarily as a composer for film and TV, although I regularly write music for the concert hall as well. I have written twenty-one scores for Film and Television and I am honored to have four the scores received awards for best score. Currently, I am working on a new television series dedicated to music education and appreciation.
One of my favorite parts of my musical journey is having the opportunity to share my experiences with others through education. For the last four years, I have worked with the Academic Center for Tutoring (ACT) at Columbia College Chicago to bring practical and fun lessons in music theory/aural skills, piano, trumpet, composition, and production. The ACT was located in the heart of the Chicago Loop and I would work with students who have never seen sheet music before (completely reliant on their ears) and students with a classical background that struggled to play without sheet music. Balancing the radically different musical backgrounds of each student was difficult at first, but I have realized that the core struggles are universal. The solution for each roadblock typically revolved around the students attitude, rather than their approach. Once the student figured out what they truly wanted to learn and feel from music, they were able to set their mind to it and drastically improve. I sincerely enjoy helping the student find their voice and interests, rather than enforcing my own upon them.
To me, the key element for a successful learning experience is to engage the student in the lesson and during their individual practice. I have battled with ADHD my whole life and I distinctly remember daydreaming during many of my classes in college, retaining little-to-no information. It is very difficult to engage with a topic as complex as music, but it is crucial to absorb every second. My main priority during a lesson is engaging to student in the session material, typically fun and exciting ways. While a consistent practice schedule is ideal but the same principle applies here: focused practice is ideal, practicing just to get in the hours will not progress a students ability (I know from personal experience). Some students enjoy learning exercises from a book while others enjoy learning pop songs by ear, forcing book exercises on a student who may want to learn Ariana Grande songs will result in inefficient practice. No musical compositions are "better" than another; we can learn the same core concepts from Ariana Grande and Mozart. Every student learns in a completely different way, and has unique interests; due to this, I do my absolute best to meet the needs of the student in every manner possible.
A lot of the students I worked with were severely struggling with music at first, many of whom felt extremely insecure. The most important factor is making sure a student is comfortable. It is terrifying to play an instrument that you may be feeling insecure about, and a condescending or arrogant teacher will only reinforce the insecurities. I try my best to create a relaxed and animated environment to combat the initial insecurities. Different personality types call for different styles of teaching. Some students prefer to lead the way and create their own agendas while other students prefer to have the instructor lead. I love to discuss learning preferences with students to guarantee that they are receiving the preferred style of education. With children, I like to let them "lead the way" while I continuously steer them in the right direction. It keeps them engaged during the lesson and may inspire them to take charge and practice at home.
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