Philosophy of Teaching
The education of young talent is not to be taken lightly, and I view my role as a teacher, mentor, and coach as crucial in training future musicians.
My teaching goals are to inspire and encourage flute technique, performance skills, and most important, beautiful phrasing and musicality. The training I received at the Paris Conservatory was intense and thorough. The French Flute School provides an unsurpassed model of technical perfection, a clear, fast method of articulation, a wealth of color changes, and a homogeneous tone throughout the entire range of the instrument. These are just a few of the unique characteristics I experienced first-hand and will pass on to aspiring flute students of my own. In my teaching, I incorporate both my experiences from the Paris Conservatory and my extensive training in the United States, specifically my training with the legendary Julius Baker, to create a special method of training combining the best of both the American and French methods of teaching. My basic teaching philosophy is very simple: I make sure that every student in my studio masters the foundation of great control over their instrument, because by mastering air-stream control, sound production, technique and attention to details in a phrase, the student becomes free to express themselves musically, learn pieces quickly, and to perform with ease and enjoyment.
My instruction is always tailored to the individual needs of each student arriving in my studio, whether as a freshman beginning college studies or as an advanced student in a master’s or doctoral degree program. My goal is to work with each student to achieve musical intelligence, sensitivity, expression, maturity, precise technical execution, and a high level of virtuosity. The methods I use to accomplish these goals focus on the following principles:
- Fundamentals such as proper breathing, posture, body awareness and finger technique
- Tone quality with a full beautiful sound
- Expressive musical phrasing
- How and when to use vibrato
- Understanding complex rhythms
- Control of intonation at all dynamic and range levels
- Effective tonguing, including French articulation methods and double and triple tonguing
- Winning preparation for auditions and performances including mental toughness training based on famed audition coach Dr. Don Greene
- 901 ways to play dreaded scales and arpeggios
- Music theory woven into lessons so that students learn theory as part of the harmonic and stylistic tapestry of music
I achieve the above by first demanding that all students, regardless of age or level of study, memorize and play scales, and arpeggios in all keys, in all three registers, and broken scales in thirds and all arpeggios, triads, broken, and chromatic scales in 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths. These patterns are difficult, and I teach them by demonstration: they are not written down and must be memorized. No one moves forward until I approve these technical exercises. In addition, we practice these together in our technique studio classes. I test them for a grade, and in this way they are all accountable for doing the work. In addition, I teach technique and sound production out of the three flute methods, by Marcel Moyse, considered to be the “bible” in French Flute School training:
- Gammes et Arpegges (for technique and concentration)
- De La Sonorité (sound production and control of vibrato)
- Tone Development Through Interpretation (proper phrasing and mastery of legato playing and color).
In my studio, I teach proper breath control, posture, body awareness and relaxed finger technique. I encourage all students to study Alexander Technique and believe every music school should have a body-work specialist on staff to complement the work of applied teachers helping students to improve at a fast rate without physical tension or injury.
To help my students achieve success, we hold audition preparation classes where we play mock auditions and discuss the importance of eating well, sleeping enough, stress reduction, and adversity training based on the teachings of renowned sports psychologist Dr. Don Greene. I also have coached privately with Dr. Noa Kagayama, author of The Bulletproof Musician. Since I have won two orchestra jobs and been a finalist in the major symphonies of Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles, I am acquainted with performance anxiety and have had to work hard to overcome it. Thus I feel I can help students master the art of winning auditions. In our adversity training sessions, we discuss centering techniques to reduce our heart rate under extreme pressure, we discuss the benefit of visualization leading up to important performances, left brain vs. right brain thinking, the tapering process to perform at our best when it counts, positive self-talk and more. I also require my students to read many books on performance-audition techniques. Here are just a few that I recommend:
- Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Performance, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
- Fight your Fear and Win, by Don Greene
- Audition Success, by Don Greene
- Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman
- Power Sleep, by Jim Loehr
Since I take a whole-health stance toward performing, I make a lot of analogies to athletes in terms of how we should train when preparing for important musical events. I believe that exercise and healthy eating impact our energy level and performance. Finally, I always try to keep the mood in my studio light and to teach kids that the end result is not about perfection, but about enjoying the process of improvement and the journey to reaching our potential as musicians. I encourage constant recording of all studio classes, mock auditions, and private lessons. I ask students to always listen to the recordings within two days of the class and keep a journal of notes, which will serve them well when they need to go back and review how to play an excerpt or piece. When a student has an audition, we make click tapes of metronome beats during rests and certain measures to check rhythmic precision, especially after running up stairs or raising our hearts rates to mimic how we would feel in a pressurized performance situation. As you can see, I take a whole-person approach to teaching and a though approach to coaching professional audition material.
In closing, my objectives are the following:
- Recruit high level students
- Teach mastery of the flute
- Hold studio classes with the following themes:
- Scales/Moyse technique
- Orchestral preparation
- Mock auditions
- Solo masterclasses
- Invite world-class flutists to give masterclasses
- Stress reduction and whole-health approach to auditions