In the classroom at TPS, I teach PreK-3rd grade students the fundamentals of music by singing, moving, playing instruments, learning theory, history and exploring different cultures. I also incorporate an extensive list of music books - both on paper and online! Student participation and student choice are highly encouraged in an inclusive, supportive learning environment so they become independent learners. Through interactive modeling and reinforcement of positive behavior, I make sure the children develop important social-emotional skills such as responsibility, cooperation, self-control, assertiveness and empathy. It is important all students feel safe and valued in our classroom community. I prepare students to have a greater understanding of beats, rhythms, tempos, dynamics, pitches, and written notation. And imaginitive play, energizer activities and brain breaks are also a part of the music curriculum! Throughout the academic year, I prepare and conduct all the Primary grades for their Winter, Spring and Culture concerts. While I draw much of my teaching methods from the Responsive Classroom approach, I am open to learning other educational perspectives to meet the students’ needs.
I also have the pleasure of working with the Middle School students at TPS. I offer an elective class called The Audition Workshop, where students learn how to release inhibitions and gain important performing tools to deliver a successful audition. I also conduct the choirs and assist with school productions. This year I was the Choreographer for Seussical The Musical and Director of Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit.
Voice Lessons Are Personal
Taking voice lessons is a deeply personal process and each student needs a specific program tailored to their unique instrument. As singing involves great sensitivity and skill, I am continually making adjustments to find the right approach for each student to progress successfully. Furthermore, it is important to create a bond of trust as we open up and learn from one another.
Building a Strong Foundation
Whether working with an experienced vocalist or a hobbyist, each student must gain proper vocal skills and achieve the ability to deliver with confidence, taught via the four technical singing components of respiration, phonation, resonation, and articulation. My goal with students is to balance the coordination of these four elements while helping them to find freedom and agility in all parts of their voice. I work to keep an open, honest line of communication, and challenge them to grow at their own pace.
Truth and Responsibility in Performance
Acting is a powerful element in performing and requires great responsibility. From page to stage, the singer is the vessel who breathes life into the written work. It can be challenging for students to balance the harmony of their body, mind, and soul and find absolute truth in their performance without getting in their own way. Everyone has their own entanglements to break through and I work alongside students in helping them find freedom in performance. While we take time to learn the intricate details and layers of a piece, I believe in a “less is more” approach to execution. Stillness and silence can be just as profound as a big, booming show stopper. I teach students to focus, know their objective(s), speak the text, dig into the subtext, work transitions, play with inflection, highlight operative words, utilize action verbs, increase kinesthetic awareness, explore meaningful gestures, take in their environment, and always listen intently. I will often say, “Don’t act…REact.”
This medium demands an enormous amount of discipline and I admire anyone who takes the plunge. Time and time again I’ve seen students’ hard work pay off when they can transport an audience on a journey like no other. Vocal performance is transient in nature, and I always encourage students to stay in the moment, take risks and commit to the challenges that lie ahead. Artists are always evolving and my wish for students is to enjoy the process, embrace the mistakes, and have fun along the way!
“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.”