Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is based on helping students unlock and develop their inner ability for expression and create musical experiences for themselves and those around them. Music is simple- even when it’s complex. Everyone can make music in a way unique to them.

I believe that no technical skill can be learned without a musical intention driving it. The body learns by doing, and we have to be free to try and fail and try again in order to create pathways in our brains for success. I don’t offer technical instruction to my students; instead, I provide examples, encourage singing and piano playing to reinforce musical ideas, and above all keep the student’s focus of attention on the result they want.

In my studio, we sing a lot. We play simple songs by ear and improvise over drones. We learn how we sound based on how we want to sound- and we always move our air.

We practice performance: everything we are learning has to be done externally, because music is a communication tool. We can’t learn anything by halves. If we’re going to do it, even slowly, we should do it fully.

We understand the theoretical structure of music, or at least the basics, and develop our skills in daily exercises, scales and patterns, rhythms, and ear training.

Some quotes I live by:

“If less is more, nothing is everything”- Jan Kagarice

“How to play trombone? 1. Blow in the little end, 2. Music!” – Vern Kagarice

Jan Kagarice was my professor during my masters program at North Texas. Without her intuitive and inspirational approach to learning, I would not be the musician and educator I am today. Vern, her husband, was also a trombone instructor at UNT, and one of the most easy-going, natural musicians I’ve ever met. The fundamental tenant of their teaching is helping students learn through natural processes, much in the way outlined in The Inner Game of Tennis. The less you work to make something happen, physically, the less your body will need to do to make it happen. You’ll be free to make music- doing nothing but saying everything.

“Don’t play something until you get it right. Practice it until you can’t get it wrong.” – musician’s wisdom

“It’s either a melody or a malady.” – John Marcellus

“Versatility, not virtuosity.” – Leah Pogwizd

“Move the music, not the mechanics.”- Lauren Husting

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