philosophy on teaching


"Music, it’s good to have in the house; just like having flowers in the house, it’s beautiful. We should listen to all kinds of music- everything. Mostly what we do is done to some kind of music. If a child is born they play music. If you die, they play music. They play when you march off to war. Music is a very important thing. Music to wake up by, music to sleep by, music to dance by, all kinds of music" (Art Blakey-"Jazzmakers"- video 1985).

This statement puts into words the feeling that music is an all- encompassing art form and is used for so much of our lives; so much so, sometimes we don't even notice it. I feel that music and knowing how to play an instrument, while not for everyone, can be a gift to us all and with some guidance can be a very rewarding undertaking. The drum, historically the second instrument after the voice, is an instrument that parallels so much of our daily lives. We have rhythm in so much of what we do, and to play the drum gives you an outlet to make those rhythms around you come alive. 

I feel it is important to use a relaxed approach in a calm, non-fear based environment with an emphasis on understanding the information given, rather than on a certain level of results determined by others. I feel that it is also important to measure my students by their understanding and not by a standardized, goal-oriented evaluation that may push the student to an uncomfortable place. I believe playing an instrument is a journey on a singular path; not a set of stairs to climb. I take into account that different students will not only learn information at a different rate but also that they have different learning styles. The student is shown their way on this path and if they make an effort to practice regularly, they will be able to progress. 

Through the experience of my own learning and teaching of others, I have determined that people will learn and understand information quicker when they are given that information in an environment in which they feel comfortable. Students need to be able to ask questions, play the instrument and occasionally make mistakes without fear of what I or others may say. Fear of an authority can only take a student so far before a rebellion occurs, but if an appreciation is established between teacher and student; then progress will continue well into the future. 

Ultimately, playing an instrument takes discipline and the knowledge that, as a student, you get to where you want to be through practice. Each student moves through the stages of learning the instrument differently. This is because of the quality of your practice and the fact that playing an instrument is a leveled exercise. You may be at one level for a while and as you practice, you notice an improvement. Even though you may be at that level for a longer time as you continue to work, one day, you will notice an improvement. So, playing an instrument is not something that you practice one day and the next day you improve, and so on, but an activity that you must stick with for an extended period of time to notice an improvement. In addition to mastering the information at different rates, each student also will fall into one of three learning style categories. Either students are visual: learning by reading a pattern, they are auditory: learning by hearing a pattern, or they are tactile: learning by seeing a pattern demonstrated. The student's learning style is evaluated in the first lesson and that will be used in all lessons to make the information easier to understand for each student. 

In conclusion, I feel that learning an instrument, like the drum, is not only a discipline that most of us need in our lives but also a way to be creative. The creation of sounds through an instrument is a very powerful thing and can be an experience for the player that is magical, transforming, and can sooth emotions.