As an applied flute instructor, I create an environment in which each student can set and achieve their artistic and professional goals on an individual basis. Throughout the process of learning repertoire and developing technical facility on the instrument using proven methodology, my students also learn self-evaluation and assessment.
I expect a high level of preparation and engagement on the part of all students, and in turn I strive to motivate, inspire, and support their artistic and professional goals. I treat the beginning of each lesson as a performance opportunity in which the student can run their etude without pause or correction. This allows students to practice performing while giving them an opportunity to integrate the many skills they practiced that week into a performance. After an initial run-through, I create a lesson environment in which students feel comfortable experimenting with new musical concepts and instrumental techniques. I maintain a balance between constructive criticism and specific praise in each lesson, and I provide students with the tools to assess their own strengths and weaknesses in the practice room in-between lessons.
Some specific areas of exploration in my teaching are tone development and body awareness. At the core of flute performance is the ability to produce a pure and polished tone that will communicate the intent of both the composer and performer. Tone development is implemented through methodical study of Marcel Moyse’s De la Sonorité and Exercises Journaliers and Trevor Wye’s Tone Practice Book, a specific sequence of solo repertoire, and supplemental exercises I compose for my students. Tone is intricately tied to body awareness, and students quickly discover that a balanced and ergonomic approach to flute playing will resolve longstanding tone production issues. My approach to physical awareness is based on past study of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Alexander Technique, and yoga. I ask students to familiarize themselves with these approaches to discover their most sustainable approach to flute playing.
While I expect every student to fulfill certain requirements, I vary instructional techniques and repertoire sequencing based on the learning style and background of each student. Together we establish short-term and long-term technical, performance, and academic goals, and this allows me to assess students on an individual basis. Additionally, I believe it is important to keep students informed about and encourage participation in developmentally appropriate performance, competition, and audition opportunities over the course of academic study. These opportunities allow students to become active participants in the musical community and gain professional experience while they are in school. While I work with my students to prepare for these opportunities, I emphasize the importance of comprehensive growth rather than solely teaching to a specific performance or competition.
Ultimately, I know the skills my students acquire as musicians will be applied in a variety of professional endeavors. Some students will go on to pursue a career in performance, while others will apply their musical skills to education, arts administration, music history, or music theory. Others may move on to another field entirely, but they will be equipped with the creative thinking skills and work ethic to be successful in many professions. At the culmination of an academic program, it is most important that my students feel our work together has prepared them to reach their highest level of potential with the confidence to pursue their chosen career path.