I don’t know that I could sum up my beliefs and style on teaching in a single paragraph.
Over the years my thoughts have changed about how to teach. Every person is unique. Yes, many people have various similarities but every musician relates to music and themselves differently. I believe that anyone can play the cello and anyone can learn to make music from the heart. I believe this journey begins in the heart but it is implemented by the mind. With this thought at the center of my attention, I carefully approach every lesson with the intent to help my students learn to achieve what is in their hearts through their bodies.
I presume many people picture playing any instrument as a physical challenge. By this I mean they see musicians with flying fingers and agile arms with amazing dexterity. They are purely focused on the physical aspect of making music. Yes, you need a body to make music. However, the mind controls the body and the mind connects the heart to the body. The heart is where true music stems from. Thus, the mind helps a soul deliver its music through the body. This is why I approach every lesson carefully. I want to help my students learn how to control their bodies so they can conquer the physical challenges of playing the cello. As a student begins to discover the ability to control the body through the mind, we begin to discuss how we can portray our thoughts, memories, and emotions through music. This is one of my favorite stages of teaching. It is where the student realizes that there is entire world to explore right at his or her finger tips.
On a more practical note, I have a general framework of music and exercises that I want each student to learn. This framework consists of scales, beautiful melodies, and exercises and etudes. I believe scales aid in developing the essential knowledge and skills needed to play music. I value beautiful melodies. They are the reason musicians make music. They are fun, rewarding, and the main focus of lessons. When time allows, I also like to include various exercises and etudes to help progress existing skills and to introduce new skills.
With each student I carefully choose specific curriculum to fit his or her needs. At times, I may break away from my general framework of music to explore more effective ways to teach a particular student. Also, I am always looking for new ways to learn how to explain certain sounds on the cello, particular body movements to achieve a needed technique, and ways to help a student explore oneself to draw on inspiration to influence his or her music. Truly teaching is one of my greatest inspirations. I believe teaching encourages me to learn and learning inspires me to teach. Teaching makes me a better musician.