PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
Dynamic - Engaged - Responsive
As an active member of the academic and artistic community, I strongly believe that teaching is no longer an activity restricted to the classroom.
My commitment to students’ well-being and success prompts me to see all aspects of student-teacher interaction as opportunities to practice reflection, self-discovery, discipline, compassion, and effective communication. My philosophy of teaching is built around three main pillars: creating inspiring learning experiences, open, inclusive, and responsive spaces, and continued professional growth.
Pillar 1: Inspiring Learning
The first consists of creating inspiring learning experiences that are meaningful and maintain a balance between content and skill. The second focuses on creating a welcoming learning environment that promotes a sense of belonging and facilitates the learning process.
The balance of content and skill maximizes each student’s experience and allows them to identify different ways in which they can learn (metacognition), which makes them active participants of their own learning process.
This approach is tremendously empowering and motivating to for students and it has positively affected my day-to-day rehearsal/class activities and it is also my compass for programming or curriculum design. I emphasize the importance of meaningful and pertinent programming within a clearly defined theoretical framework and historical context (content).
However, I equally emphasize skills such as active listening, which motivate students to 1) challenge preconceived notions about certain styles of music (bias), 2) open themselves to new sonic experiences, and 3) seek new aesthetic experiences and search for ways to connect with them.
By recognizing performing as an experience mediated by their own backgrounds, students realize that a mindful music practice is an effective way to un-Other the unfamiliar. As a transferable skill, the practice of active listening helps students to understand the importance of cultural diversity and it is an effective way to practice effective communication.
Pillar 2: Open, Inclusive, and Responsive
My experience teaching and learning in traditionally heteronormative and homogeneous (non-diverse) systems has led me to reflect on the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of existing mechanisms (e.g. safe spaces) intended to validate and protect students with diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives.
I have successfully implemented a model that disrupts the linear momentum of prejudice and can be replicated in any social, cultural, and learning environment. This process is articulated by three principles: openness, inclusiveness, and responsiveness.
An open environment allows for free expression of self, especially for those students who do not fit the prevailing models. Inclusion (or intentional representation) of such ideas and identities into my classes and ensembles makes them visible and prevents their marginalization. Responsiveness allows me to address with compassion, understanding, and respect, moments of prejudice, discomfort, and Othering as they occur.
This practice, which demonstrates students that complicity thrives on neutrality, helps them to recognize issues such as privilege and inequality. It also inspires them to use it positively as an instrument for social transformation.
It has been extremely rewarding to learn that my students see my teaching as “challenging” and “revelatory” and the increasing diversity in my enrollments.
Pillar 3: Continued Professional Growth
My membership and participation in activities coordinated by institutional organizations such as the Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts, motivates me not only to learn from colleagues and students, but also to reflect on my own role as a teacher.
Inspired by Peter Felten’s words, it is my hope that every student I teach is able to say confidently: “I belong here, I can learn this, and I find this meaningful.”
Much of my work, in and out of the classroom, is built upon a collaborative approach with other pedagogues, artists, musicians, and performers.