#TeacherFeature: Northside Advocate Teresa Campbell

Welcome back to #TeacherFeature! Every Wednesday this month I’ll be highlighting the work and career of one of my favorite educators and talking about how they’ve influenced my career and teaching philosophy.

Today I want to shout-out one my close friends, and someone I’ve known for a long time as a inspired, dedicated educator and musician. She’s turned her generous, compassionate heart to helping the underserved kids of North Minneapolis grow community and self-confidence through music. Please welcome to the blog Ms Teresa Campbell!

Teresa and I met at the University of Wisconsin when I was a freshman in 1999. I admired her ability to take on all styles of music, and in particular, her compositional bent. It was unthinkable to me that I would be able to present something that I wrote as musical viable, and watching Teresa perform her own music was part of a big change in my mindset. We lost touch over the years and reconnected in Minneapolis, sharing a common love of music and social justice education.

These days, Teresa performs regularly around the Cities as a violinist, including in the Stone Arch Collective (oboe, violin, viola, and cello), which was one of MPR’s ClassNotes Artists in AY1516. But her career really centers around the work she does as an El Sistema educator for MacPhail in the North Minneapolis schools Harvest Prep, Ascension Catholic, and the MacPhail Northside Youth Orchestra.

What I love about Teresa’s teaching is that it’s not about making her young string players flawless musicians, but rather, about building safe, inclusive communities in her programs and then encouraging her students to explore musical journeys they might not otherwise have access to. Her posts on social media frequently display her deep care and concern for the wellbeing of these kids, many of whom face poverty, broken family structures, and violence as part of their daily lives. Her orchestras offer a haven from these stressors, a place for kids to be themselves and grow as young, vibrant people.

Teresa and some of her students at Ascension 

In addition to her work in Minneapolis’ North Minneapolis neighborhoods, Teresa recently earned a second masters in English as  Second Language, and is an advocate for homeless youth through the work of Covenant House. I am beyond proud to call her a friend and a colleague and I know she is creating a lifelong legacy of compassionate music education that will touch many youth for years to come.

#TeacherFeature: Master Educator Sarah Minette

Welcome back to #TeacherFeature! Every Wednesday this month I’ll be highlight the work and career of one of my favorite educators and talking about how they’ve influenced my career and teaching philosophy.

Today I am really pleased to be able to feature a local educator and academic who is truly using her passion for music and music learning to make all voices in our community visible and valued. Please welcome to the blog Ms Sarah Minette!

As I was developing my own philosophy of teaching and starting to promote the image I wanted to have on the scene, many people said, ‘you need to meet Sarah Minette.’ We’ve since connected, and I can’t say when collective advice has ever been so spot on. Sarah is a kind, compassionate, committed music educator with an eye for finding pathways into the most vulnerable students’ hearts and minds.

Sarah teaches several classes at South High School in Minneapolis. South is a big, diverse school in an urban location that pulls students from many different facets of the Minneapolis community. Three of my own students attend and participate in their band program (hi, Henry, Genevieve, and Ellie!), Leading class guitar, beginning band, and Jazz II, and offering a course on popular music in America, Sarah brings her own thoughtful teaching philosophy to each.

You can read the whole statement in the link above, but here’s my favorite part (seriously though, it’s all excellent):

There must be a sense of safety so that the students and myself, in our vulnerable states can take intellectual and personal risks. However, this can only occur if the content is relevant to the students, their lives, their diverse backgrounds, and the learning community. I consider what prior knowledge and understanding the students with whom I work, as well as future students, may bring with them to the classroom. Relinquishing the title “expert” and instead, considering myself a “co-learner” has augmented the teaching and learning experience for not only myself, but the students with whom I work.

-From “Teaching and Learning Statement”, Sarah Minette’s website.

Sarah has numerous anecdotes and experiences on the blog portion of her website, and I encourage you to explore her fine writing on the subject of her teaching. My particular favorite is her musings on the million dollar question: “What does it mean to be successful?”

Discussing a recent article in which the author proscribed a particular brand of achievement to what a successful guitar class would look like, Sarah questions why numbers and rankings have become so important for music teachers, and wonders what we may have lost sight of.

From the post:

As educators, we have goals for our students and hopefully, we share these goals and involve the students in the goal-making. Ideally, the goals should come from the students first and we help them get there. But if this is what it means to see success, for the students to succeed, why are we not reading about their accomplishments? Why am I reading more about the teachers’ accomplishments? This is not to dismiss the hard work that teachers do, we work our asses off, no doubt about that. But why? Do we work our butts off to receive awards, or do we work our butts off to watch the students struggle with a musical problem, only to work through the problem themselves and possibly others, and come out with a better understanding on the other side?

She goes on to describe her guitar class’s trip to the recording studios at McNally-Smith College of Music (R.I.P.) and how they managed the creative, technical, and marketing processes all on their own with minimal guidance from her. At the end they had a product, yes, but the product was bonus material when considering the overall lessons and growth these students undertook for their own musical benefit.

An academic also, Sarah is working on her doctorate in music education, with a dissertation in the works exploring how LGBTQ music educators navigate their personal and professional lives. It’s another example of her commitment to bringing diverse voices into music education and the broader sphere of learning communities.

Thinking about the myriad examples of inclusion, empathy, and risk-taking Sarah Minette takes as an educator and academic every day inspires me to do more for my students and my community. There are so many voices to be heard, and all we need is the patience and care to listen to them.

#TeacherFeature: Equity Engineer Roque Diaz

Welcome back to #TeacherFeature! Every Wednesday this month I’ll be highlight the work and career of one of my favorite educators and talking about how they’ve influenced my career and teaching philosophy.

Please welcome to the blog my good friend, colleague, sometime boss, trumpet maverick, composer, and overall champion for equity in the arts, Roque Diaz!

he hasn’t won an Oscar yet but stay tuned

I met Roque in 2016 when we were both starting our doctoral programs at the U (he’s still there, about to take his exams, as he has more academic fortitude than I). Over the course of our friendship we’ve collaborated on musical projects (The Satellites), administered free lessons programs (MN Brass’s educational grant for the students of Brooklyn Center High School), and talked  tangible ways to make our big dreams of creating arts learning and community that provides resources for all.

From his bio:

Roque Diaz is an avid scholar, educator, musician, composer, creator, music director, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Education and Creative Studies and Media at the University of Minnesota. Roque recently presented “Policies that Matter: Creating a Voice through Policy Awareness for Music Teacher Educators”, at the 2017 Society for Music Teacher Educators Conference in Minneapolis, MN. He will be presenting his next research “Embedding Diversity: A Case Study of the Artistic Citizenship Practices of a Regional Arts Council”, at the 2018 Reflective Conservatoire Conference in London, England. Roque’s research interests are in creating a body movement and awareness curriculum for the marching arts, arts education policy, and embedding diversity and strengthening equity and inclusion into the arts.

Roque is in the process of forming an international arts organization that is dedicated to making the arts a viable career choice whose mission is to provide consistent and sustainable employment to all diverse artists.

What I love about Roque the educator is his commitment to seeing arts establishments and academic institutions rapidly evolve for a future of inclusive, representational learning and performance. He wants to see everyone have access, and see themselves and their culture reflected in the art they are experiencing.

This often means tough conversations in collegiate and non-profit settings where Western European, white, and male viewpoints have long dominated, but Roque is not one to back down from a challenge. Together we worked very hard to get POC and/or women in the teaching positions at BCHS. He’ll begin work at MacPhail Center for Music in June of this year, directing and developing their diversity initiatives to bring more of the Cities within range of accessible music education.

I’ve learned so much from Roque. He’s given me the language I need to describe my educational goals, supplied me with resources that further my work, and frequently been a friendly ear for my frustrations and concerns about the music industry. I know that his future as an arts entrepreneur and innovate educator is just beginning, so I’m excited to see what he can do…and what we can all do together.

Check out Roque’s academic writing and join his conversation about the future of creative artistry and stay tuned for more.

#TeacherFeature: Trombonist and Pedagogue Sean Reusch

Welcome to the first #TeacherFeature of April! Every Wednesday this month I’ll be highlight the work and career of one of my favorite educators and talking about how they’ve influenced my career and teaching philosophy.

It’s timely that I featured this first artist, because he just featured me on his site (and I am very humbled and honored to appear there amongst some truly great musicians!). Please welcome to the blog San Diego-based trombonist and educator Sean Reusch!

Sean was my teacher in high school in San Diego in the late 1990s. We had weekly lessons and I remember always feeling like I had his full attention in whatever I said or played. He helped me prepare my college auditions and was ecstatic when I found out I was accepted to the University of Wisconsin, my first choice. We’ve kept in touch ever since, meeting up for beers and good conversations whenever I’m back in Southern California.

A graduate of Penn State and the Manhattan School of Music, Sean performs regularly around the region and the country and was a founding member of the excellent Presidio Brass Quintet. He’s taught at many higher education establishments, including San Diego State and UCSD, but recently told me he wants to focus more on his grade school students, helping prepare the next generation of professional trombonists from the ground up. In 2017 he ran the tremendously successful Junior ITF at the International Trombone Festival in Redlands, CA.

He also manages the website Trombone 101, an “information highway for trombonists” which is chock full of resources, insights, learning tips, and amazing materials. I highly recommend the Daily Routine Songbook, aka the book I wish I had written, which offers players simple tunes for each day of the week that cover the basics in intonation, articulation, phrasing, and musicality.

Sean describes his teaching philosophy as simple: “I try to inspire my students to do their best, to be positive, to dream big, to be creative, to be thoughtful musicians, to learn valuable life lessons through music, and to deepen their love of music.” I want to add that what Sean has taught me most about music has come from his intrinsic accepting, optimistic outlook. We’ve experienced a very similar evolution of our teaching philosophies over the years, and come to the agreement that the most important thing to teach is the outward expression of our musical spirit- the rest, the technical, comes along easily if we’re focused on what we want to happen.

I still have in my possession a large three-ring binder that contains just about every piece of music and resource that Sean ever gave me. It’s copies of orchestral excerpts, solo repertoire, articles about playing and practicing health, duets and chamber music. I’ve opened it many times over the years to find something to give to one of my students or use for myself. It speaks to Sean’s incredibly giving spirit that he never asked for compensation or thanks for these materials. The mentorship that Sean gave me first as a young player and then as a developing professional was so invaluable to me that I promised myself I would pay it forward someday down the line. I would love nothing more than to offer the same friendly, encouraging spirit to my students that Sean gives to me and everyone he teaches. His example was my first experience understanding what the importance of a truly kind and supportive teacher means for the learner.

Do yourself a favor and explore the many wonders of Trombone 101, and if you ever have a chance to meet, study from, or see Sean Reusch perform, don’t miss out! He is truly one of the great pedagogues of the trombone and is building a legacy of students well-balanced in ability and mind.