Why did you become a teacher?
I started teaching guitar and music when I was in high school through a work-study program in my school. I’ve always enjoyed helping others with a skill I have that they want to learn. I love it when I see the light bulb turn on with students and some aspect of music sinks in. I love hearing the words, “I want to learn…” from a student. Never get tired of it!
What is the funniest moment you’ve experienced as an educator?
I was teaching a freeform art class to young children. I gave them permission to create anything they wanted with paint. A little girl kept putting a glob of paint on a canvas and then would ask for another canvas. She would do this over and over. Just one glob of paint and then start a new piece of art. I finally said to her, “You know, you should do more than just put a glob of paint on the paper and say it’s done.” She looked at me and replied with a very offended tone, “It’s not a glob — it’s a CAR!”
Well, I guess I learned my lesson in abstract expressionism and dealing with young artists.
How has the last year affected your students and your teaching approach?
We’ve gone from in-person music lessons to working completely online. Pre-Covid we did live ensemble music rehearsals, recordings, and recitals to virtual ensemble, remote lessons and recordings, and YouTube recitals.
What’s a creative solution you use to keep kids engaged or motivated during COVID?
I’ve embraced the opportunity to teach kids to use 21st Century music-making tools during this time. I was surprised going into remote teaching how very little students used technology to rehearse, practice, and record music. While most of them are computer savvy, they haven’t really used it very much for educational purposes or for music study/practice. Young people are always looking for a challenge — so using music-related technology provides the challenge and motivation.
What resources do you like to use in the classroom or in teaching remotely?
Soundtrap for Education, Hal Leonard and Essential elements online books /audio files, and I’ve created my own virtual ensemble practice audio files for students to work with.
What is your experience with bullying in the classroom?
How do you gauge if your students are succeeding?
If they play music well. That’s the beauty of music. Performance of what one is studying on a weekly basis is such a natural way to see how the student is progressing, where there is need for improvement, and where weakness is in understanding (or teaching).
What’s a fun thing students don’t know about you?
Very, very few of my students know I have had a second, previous career in the film industry for two and half decades and have worked in the production side on over 40 films and television features. I don’t talk about it often.
What’s the one book you wish all students would read?
I’ve given “Guitar Genius, the Childhood of Les Paul” away to several students.
What is your primary educational goal, and what are you most proud of as a teacher?
Creating people who create on their own. I most enjoy watching my students in a recording studio and creating a product that can be enjoyed by people for years to come.
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