Q: Why is music so important to you? A: When I was young, I was very quiet and painfully shy. I had plenty of thoughts and emotions, but I was uncomfortable expressing emotional ideas even to myself. When I listened to music, however, I somehow felt free. I would often fill up all six slots on our carousel CD player and listen to as many songs as I could. Sometimes I would dance or sing along (very quietly), but mostly I lay on the floor with my head propped up in my hands just listening and feeling all the wonderful colors and emotions in the music. Years later, when I finally got the opportunity to learn piano, I had such a love and respect for music that I could hardly learn fast enough. There were pieces I wanted to play because they were like friends to me. So I played them even when I really didn't have all the technical skill necessary. Of course, for many years now I have worked hard to remedy that early habit of playing without much technical control, but I find still that if a desire for perfection and control begins to squelch that natural insect to express and feel, it is time to readjust my priorities. Q: Do you have a favorite composer? A: While choosing a favorite composer is probably more difficult than choosing a favorite author, I have to say that one of the deepest and most enduring influences in my life is Beethoven. The depth of the passion and conviction he expressed in his music is unmistakable, even painful at times. He endured so many hardships in both his personal life and through the political upheaval of the time, and yet his music still feels hopeful and triumphant in the midst of the struggle. Q: What is your teaching philosophy? A: Music is a language, complex and beautiful, with many dialects and accents, but universal in its ability to move our emotions and capture our imaginations. As with any language, it has basic rules and guidelines, but it also has infinite possibilities for expression and composition. My goal in teaching any music student is to help them to develop their own voice to interpret the musical ideas they see, hear and even imagine. And just as with spoken language, young musicians must understand that they are communicating something meaningful from the very beginning.
And just as with spoken language, young musicians must understand that they are communicating something meaningful from the very beginning.
As a teacher, I am never satisfied that a student plays certain pitches in a certain order and rhythm with no sense of the meter or shape of the phrase. Even a toddler knows from context and imitation the difference in inflection between a question and a statement. Just so, a young student can quickly learn by imitation and experimentation that the same few notes on the page can be played in a variety of interesting and contrasting styles. I like to tell my students that what they see written on the page isn't music. It is simply symbols the composer uses to try to communicate the music they created and heard. Our job as musicians is to interpret those symbols back into a language that everyone can understand. I want my students to make meaningful musical decisions every day. By doing so, they become mentally and emotionally connected to music from the very beginning.
I want my students to make meaningful musical decisions every day. By doing so, they become mentally and emotionally connected to music from the very beginning.
Q: Why do you enjoy teaching at Mobile Music Lessons? A: Any private music instructor can sympathize with the difficulties of running their own studio without assistance. Most of us love the actual lessons and the challenges and joys of mentoring students year after year and helping them grow into accomplished musicians. But the advertising, writing policies, scheduling recitals, invoicing, etc. are parts of our job that we would often rather do without. At Mobile Music Lessons (MML), the administrators take these burdens from the teachers' shoulders and instead provide us with a community of supportive colleagues. We learn from each other’s teaching methods, and our students benefit from the interchange of ideas.