Meaning is use. – Wittgenstein
Virtually every person has the capacity to express himself musically and to communicate through music vital qualities that engage and excite. As a teacher, I work to draw out the musicality that I take to be part of each person’s nature.
Successful musical communication at the piano requires coordinating many skills. As a teacher I bring a wide variety of tools to the project of helping students communicate musical spirit with increasing excellence. I treat each student as an individual and work to customize my approach, and repertoire, for each one. When the student is a child, I value parental insight and input as to learning preferences and motivational strategies.
I am convinced that roadblocks to learning are not usefully explained as evidence for a lack of “talent” (a term that is not as controversial among musicians and music educators as in the scientific community). Such roadblocks periodically come up with just about everyone, and to overcome them I seek solutions that convey trust, respect, and enthusiasm for the student's musicality.
Playing for others is a skill that needs to be developed. I feel that performance skill is best cultivated through frequent exposure to opportunity in a nurturing environment. I provide numerous, varied opportunities for the development of freedom in performance. Within my studio, I offer three workshop recitals each year as well as informal opportunities in my home. Outside my studio, my students may choose to play for other highly skilled musician-educators in festivals sponsored by the Main Line Music Teachers' Association and the Piano Guild.
To help students play fluently, I teach biomechanical efficiency through awareness of what each part of the body contributes, and of the roles of gravity, momentum, and rebound. To create a flow of musical thought straight into the piano, I draw from my study of the brilliant Taubman technique, which is a topic of theoretical interest to me and the subject of another branch of this website. To develop well-rounded musicians, I teach theory, sight-reading, and aural skills.
Where possible, I engage through metaphor. This lightens the learning environment and helps make learning fun and relevant to the student’s interests; enables me to bind music learning to personal memory and to a wider memory network in the person’s mind; and helps me to convey that music is interwoven with the rest of life and not separate from it. I use metaphors with the physical world, other instruments, art, numbers, cooking, family life--whatever seems useful at a particular moment.
I do not assume that a person understands how to practice (in my experiece, people seldom do!). I work with students in this area.
With children, I attempt to foster self-organization, responsibility, and agency.
It is my wish for my students that, through peaceful, respectful, and fearless musical communication, and through honoring and celebrating an essential part of themselves, they will find a major life resource.