I’ve been teaching music in different settings for over twenty years.
When I was doing my Master’s degree in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory, I was fascinated by the developmental approach coupled with a rigorous sequencing of concepts of Kodaly pedagogy. I brought these approaches to my work teaching K – 8 general classroom music in three schools in the Cambridge Public Schools, where I saw over 500 students each week. Through the generous funding of the PTO at one of those schools, I was able to spend more quality time with the students at the Cambridgeport School, where I expanded the music program beyond the once-per-week music classes and added opportunities for kids to create original project-based music work. This included creating a lot of curriculum-learning songs, performances and a couple original films with originally composed and recorded music.
This work led to teaching a graduate course at Lesley University in their Creative Arts and Learning program, where I helped classroom teachers develop ways to integrate music with the other academic subjects. This meant shoring up their command of basic music literacy concepts as well as giving them a range of approaches including creating soundscapes of historical moments, a broad understanding of world music, songwriting techniques and more.
Additionally, I taught at the Charles River Creative Arts Program, which is a summer program in Dover, Massachusetts where kids pick and choose from among dozens of course offerings in all sorts of performing and visual arts. Here, I wrote a kids musical, accompanied singing classes and developed a wild song-writing class we call “Song Asylum”: a nutty place where all songs are safe to exist and be sung.
Throughout all of this, I’ve continued to bring all of these different ways of thinking about music and teaching to my private studio, where students enjoy one-on-one attention, carefully tuned to their interests and imaginations. Music is a vast playing field, and there are as many kinds of music as their are humans on earth. It is my job as a teacher to open the door to that playing field (all mixed metaphors aside) nudge the student through that door, and find the music making tools that fit the student’s interests and learning styles.