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B.A. in Music Performance
Admission and Scholarship to the Banff Centre’s Jazz and Creative Music Workshop May of 2008, Music scholarships for excellence in performance awarded every semester Texas State University 1997-2001, Dean’s list for fall 1997, spring 1998, and fall 1998, Spring 1999
Growing up in a musical family instilled a love of music as a child. My father was an accomplished jazz pianist and when I was 15 years old I began playing professionally. I had great teachers in my formative years, from my father, my band directors and to my private instructors, I learned that developing simple concepts to tackle seemingly complex ideas was the key to my success. I graduated from Texas State University in 2001 with a B.A. in Music Performance. I've released several critically acclaimed albums of my original compositions for Sunnyside Records and have toured with my groups in across the U.S. as well as Asia and Mexico. I have a monthly residence at the legendary 55 Bar every second Tuesday in Manhattan.
After graduating from college, I began teaching privately in my home state of Texas at the middle and high school levels in New Braunfels and Austin. Soon, I began teaching adults as well and when I moved to Washington D.C. in fall of 2006, I became the Music Instructor at The Art and Drama Therapy Institute, a center for adults with developmental disabilities. This experience had a great impact on me in terms of understanding the “big picture” in that the goals and methods relating to the technical aspects of music lessons, but the grand value that music offers in terms of the emotional and spiritual rewards as well. I moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue my passion as a jazz saxophonist and composer and found Musika as a great way to establish a teaching studio and to work for an outstanding company that attracts terrific students!
Over the course of many years, I've developed a method for beginning piano and woodwind students which yields excellent results. For the first series of lessons, I want the student to become comfortable in understanding the keyboard or the wind instrument, avoiding the secondary interface of sight reading. There are about twenty short, simple, basic songs I have the student master. At this point, not only are we working on understand the harmonic and melodic "hardware" of the keyboard or horn, but we are developing proper technique in terms of hand position, posture and sound as well as a natural rhythmic feel.
At this point, I encourage the student to bring in any of their favorite songs that they (or their parents) would like for them to play and I custom create an arrangement that is suitable for their abilities. This method allows the student to not only understand the names of the notes and develop proper technique, but it also gives the student a tremendous confidence boost and allows them to have fun making music! It is at this point that I introduce note reading through several method books such as "A Dozen A Day", The Alfred Series, and "Pageants for Piano" by Donald Waxman and the Hal Leonard or Rubank Books for woodwinds.
I strongly believe that all students are capable of learning an instrument and while there are some basic tenets to learning music, every student has their own style of learning in terms of pace and physical ability. It is up to me the instructor to find the best way to present the lesson. My teaching style is characterized by creating a relaxed and fun environment where my own passion for music helps inspire the student. I encourage practice, whether it's one hour a day, 5 minutes a day or somewhere in between, but I understand that contemporary students (especially in New York City) have many obligations in terms of academic and extracurricular activities. It is in knowing this, my first goal is to make the lesson fun and relaxed and never a chore or a source of pressure or anxiety for students or parents. The lesson should be a fun and safe place to learn about and to play music!
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