Though teaching since my early twenties, farther back than I care to admit, it's only been for the past twenty-two years that teaching has been my primary focus. After working mostly with college and professional players I decided to expand my teaching practice to include students of all ages and abilities. In doing so I was given a broader view the issues encountered by the older and more experienced students. Surprisingly, their problems weren't caused by a lack of ability but by habits developed in their formative years.
Having had the good fortune to grow up surrounded by wonderful musicians and teachers I became interested in developing a program that would bridge the gap between beginner and professional. My hope was to put together a program based on the musical principles and techniques used by master players. This approach would leave students free to pursue musical goals unencumbered by misinformation or misdirection.
While most of us would agree that good quality materials are essential, it is equally important to consider the learning style of the individual. Some of us are more intellectual or intuitive, while others need a more "hands- on" approach. Different learning styles require different teaching methods and quite often the approach will be the key to understanding. The result is a more self-assured student.
With this in mind I try to keep these principles in view:
1) For anyone to reach their full potential they must be given an environment in which they feel
relaxed and secure. A relaxed mind brings deeper understanding and expression.
2) The art of teaching lies in helping students discover their personal strengths. It is by using these strengths that weaknesses are overcome and the ability to self-teach is developed.
3) Basic fundamentals such as good tone and steady tempo are common to all styles, be it jazz, blues or rock. Any style can be a pathway to musical knowledge.
4) Just as people's feelings and attitudes are reflected in their body language musician's transfer their feelings and ideas to the instrument through physical movement. For this reason we should approach the instrument in a relaxed manner, leaving us free to reflect the music of the moment.
5) To quote educator George Leonard: "Mastery is taking something that is difficult and making it easy through instruction and practice." This point may seem overly simplistic, but in these hectic times the process of "discovery through practice" is even more relevant.
These basic principles combined with proper knowledge of the instrument can bring amazing results. I've heard students playing things I could not of imagined at their age and enjoy seeing them move on to careers in music, both in teaching and performance. For others playing for fun with family and friends is what they seek, and our program serves their purpose equally well. It is the student's choice as to how far to walk the path of learning, and one can take up the practice at any age or time as they see fit.
Best of luck on your musical journey -
All the best,