TEACHING PHILOSOPHY AND ENGAGEMENTS
Dynamic - Engaged - Responsive
2019-Present. Assistant Professor of Music, Gettysburg College. Gettysburg, PA.
Director of Orchestral Activities and Coordinator of Musicology.
Artistic Director of the Sunderman Conservatory Symphony. Projects include an international tour in 2023 (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), a collaboration with the opera workshop for The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan (2022). Other projects include collaborations with the theater department and the Ensemble of Variable Geometry (EnVaGe) for performances of the Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy/Lavandier, Shéhérazade by Rimsky-Korsakov/Lavandier, Abu Jameel’s Daughter by Roustom, and the state premieres of Guaguancó by López-Gavilán and En el Sombrío Bosque by Aharonián. Special projects include the Annual Concerto Competition and the co-commission of A Most Sacred Oath by Avner Dorman (2021).
Musicology Courses: Musicology I and II (team-revised courses), World Music—Musics of Latin America (new course), Topics in Musicology: Fin-de-siècle Paris: Music, Spectacle, and the Modernity (new course), Topics Seminar in Musicology: The Self and the Stage: Music, Expression, and the Performance of Identities (new course).
2013-2019. Assistant Professor of Music, The University of the South. Sewanee, TN.
Sewanee Symphony Orchestra. Artistic Director.
Artistic Director and Conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra. Founder and director of the Artistic Leadership Program (ALP), a model program focused on providing students with twenty-first century transferable skills such as team management, decision-making, and problem-solving within the dynamic and fast-paced environment of music production. Projects include Porgy and Bess by Gershwin/Bennett, a collaboration with the American Spiritual Ensemble, Pilgrimage by Carlisle Floyd (featuring Reginal Smith, Jr., baritone), Opera Arias with Kallen Esperian, Soprano, and the commission and world premiere of Carrying the Remains by James Carlson.
Musicology Courses: Music of Western Civilization, Musics of Latin America (new course), From Court Dances to Sacrificial Dances (new course), Toward the Great War: Impressionism and Modernism (new course), Global Modernities (revised course in collaboration with the Humanities department).
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 every student’s 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 two main pillars. 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 the experience of students 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.
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.
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.
• 2015-present, 2021 KIIS Salzburg Summer Music Program, Salzburg, Austria. Guest Artist. Masterclass on advanced conducting techniques.
• August, 2021.Conducting workshop. Adlai Stevenson High School Orchestra, Chicago, Illinois.
• April, 2021. Presentation “From Cake-Walk to Josephine Baker: African American precursors of the advent of Jazz in Europe,” for the event: Gender, Race, & Music: New Perspectives of Classical and Popular Music. University of Kentucky.
• April, 2021. Keynote speaker, UNCW Resonance Series. “Salsa: Noun and Verb in Latinx Identity.” University of North Carolina Wilmington.