My Teaching Philosophy
From the 4-year old Suzuki student who is making a bow hand for the very first time with the help of their parent, to the graduating senior playing a major concerto, I believe that all students are capable of becoming great musicians with noble character. Music study should be enriching, challenging, and enjoyable regardless of student playing level. I strive to create an environment in which students gain confidence as expressive performers, take ownership of their accomplishments, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. My goal is to not only teach my students how to play their instruments, but to enable them to enjoy and share music throughout their lives. For younger students, parents play an active part in lessons, taking notes and helping with practice at home. As the student matures, we work together as a team to gradually shift the responsibility of practice and home preparation so the student can become a lifelong learner.
In my teaching, I emphasize a healthy, balanced posture and physical ease in both the bow arm and left hand. From this solid foundation, I help students to create an unforced, physically efficient and resonant tone. A consistently beautiful tone is what separates a “student” sound from that of an artist, and most of us violists began playing because we were drawn to the viola’s richly dark tone, which remains a source of inspiration and enjoyment.
To ensure the greatest amount of progress at each stage, I create an individual plan for each student which includes exercises, scales, etudes, review repertoire, and new repertoire. I encourage students to take an active role in their own development by engaging them in asking questions and assessing their own playing. I strive to cultivate a positive environment in my studio where it is safe for students to take musical risks and to explore their own creativity. In addition to playing the viola, graduates of my studio will be conversant with the basic style periods of Western art music and the contributions of major composers.
In the St. Louis Metro area, there are many opportunities for string students to excel, and many students in my studio have earned the following honors:
Top Score of “1” in St. Louis Area Solo and Small Ensemble Festival
Top Score of “1” in Missouri State Solo and Small Ensemble Festival
School Honors Orchestras and Special Performances
Other student successes, of which I am equally proud include:
A young child learning to maintain focus through a 30-minute lesson
A student with learning challenges reaching a goal we had set
A student learning to work together in group class, take turns, and listen to others
A student and parent improving their relationship by working together on viola skills
While I value the importance of high standards and meeting goals, I believe the best learning happens in a challenging yet playful environment. To keep things fun and lively, I provide opportunities for my students to participate in practice challenges, special viola ensemble concerts, and our yearly “Viola Holiday” celebration. I am passionate about music education and it is a joy to share my knowledge and expertise with others.