Teaching Philosophy

"This I Believe..."


Poet Thomas Merton once proclaimed “art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” In my opinion, the ultimate experience for a creative individual is to be completely and utterly in the moment, free of doubt or reservation. As someone who has felt such a state of transcendence through music, my goal as an educator is to illuminate and guide this experience to future generations. Thus, my teaching philosophy is to empower my students to achieve creative fulfillment, to service their identity, and to be able to collaborate flexibly in the extensive scope of music throughout their lifetime.

Attaining full engagement in the moment requires having the proper tools necessary in order to be unencumbered by various obstacles. As a music instructor, the tools I will impart on my students cover both performance and conceptual approaches, from fostering solid instrument technique to developing a grounded understanding of music theory. Students will have the capacity to execute music they value, while also having the knowledge and freedom to create original works of their own. Together, we will build substantial confidence in the ability to improvise—a skill I have found to be essential for the whole musician—in order to collaborate in diverse musical settings.

I will encourage my students to discover and explore their own musical and personal identities, promoting conventional and non-conventional journeys as a means to ultimate expression. With a solid foundation of western music theory and jazz theory, I will encourage their freedom to pursue a multitude of styles of music making: traditional classical, jazz, pop, funk, blues, hiphop, rock, and composing for modern media such as film or video games, beat-making, and production. Through thoughtful study and participation (and special guest lecturers), I will expose my students to the vast world of non-Western European music, such as West-African drumming, Native American/First Nation birdsongs, Balinese gamelan, and North Indian ragas. I will instill a balanced musical culture where both physical and emotional capacities are fulfilled, where information and sensibility ally. It is here where I believe I can capture and forge passionate, life-long music makers.

I also aim to form a connection between music making and certain positive lifestyle habits, such as focused breathing and meditation to begin each class meeting. My classroom will be a space of ideal life-school balance, where students can enter a world free of stress and anxiety, while understanding that dedicated work is necessary for growth. Passion, excellence, creativity, and fulfillment will be markers of our successes.

I have had a very diverse and enriching life experience with music. I have held an open mind to what music is and how it can be shared, which has resulted in traveling to and performing in 46 countries. During a nine-year stretch after college, I toured with hip-hop legend Nas, composed for a Broadway production, performed at the Sydney Opera House, and made dozens of national television appearances, in precis. As a trained classical and jazz trumpet player, I know that I was fortunate to have lived dream-like experiences, making a living traveling the world, performing inspiring music, and learning vast amounts about myself and other people. Music was my gateway for experiencing our massive world and its plethora of cultures, and because of this, I have been shaped into a more tolerant and flexible person.

Because music has emerged in a multitude of forms throughout my life, I believe that sharing a diverse and worldly approach to the art will provide my students a lasting source of appreciation, value, and discovery. I have acquired honest and valuable data from my experiences, and trust that being a solid individual who teaches from within will result in success for my program. Ultimately, I hope to strengthen their connection to at least one powerful and positive facet in this human experience we live, that being, the wonderful phenomenon of music.