Statement of Teaching Philosophy
My goal as an instructor is to motivate students to take ownership and consciously participate in the creation of their own circumstances. To become confident collaborators and educated citizens. In the context of the music classroom, this means learning how to question and be questioned; how to respectfully and critically examine a diverse array of perspectives (from peers, authors of the readings, musical artists, even me); and how to embrace intersectionality, nuance, and complications that resist neat and tidy conclusions.
The students I teach vary widely in both musical experience and cultural background, which offers up a lot of opportunity to show that everybody has a valuable contribution to make to the study and appreciation of music. I frequently use discussion time to encourage students to bring their own discipline into the conversation and, as a result, to methodically break down any limiting preconceived notions about what Music Studies has to offer. When a student asks a question during class, I’ll often first open it up to the room to see if other students have thoughts, opinions, or explanations. This not only encourages a dialogue between students as collaborators and builds confidence, but reiterates the fact that their contribution is valuable.
One of my main roles as an educator is to understand my students’ goals and synthesize that into opportunities and challenges for them. In every class, I include a variety of source material, activities, and ways to participate—both to involve students in their own educational experience and to reinforce the importance of listening to a multitude of voices. Particularly in New York, where students are living in an epicenter of musical activity and history, I support using the city as an educational tool—taking students to local jazz venues to hear live music, bringing working musicians in to answer questions, making our own class zine in the East Village to engage with the punk scene. Anything to connect students’ lived experience with the musical and sociocultural topics they are studying. My approach foregrounds the creation of a diverse space where people feel safe to navigate and discuss tricky topics like race, class, gender, or other identities instead of avoiding them.
In line with those values, I commit to taking a personal interest in supporting students outside of class time as well—attending a student’s recitals in Steinhardt, writing recommendations for career opportunities, or even just curating lists of relevant concerts that might interest them. I make myself available for additional discussion, research questions, writing workshops, and general conversation. I also always provide detailed, personalized feedback on assignments and suggestions of additional resources that might spark new insight.
I consider teaching to be an extension of my own learning process as a student—a new way to hear people who are different from me, an advanced way to keep myself accountable for active engagement with ever-changing sociocultural environments, and a way to model the lifelong process of learning for students as they negotiate their own roles in the world.