My Teaching Philosophy | Teaching Experience | My Teaching Style

Why teach?

I have been teaching in different capacities for as long as I can remember. I love teaching music because it gives the student and teacher opportunities to grow through detailed listening, careful reflection and creative problem solving. It is profoundly satisfying to watch students progress and overcome challenges while discovering the joy in the process of dedicated study is an improved ability to communicate their musical voice. Furthermore, it is deeply rewarding to actively participate in the music apprenticeship tradition, continuing the lineage of knowledge from my great teachers and passing it down to the next generation of ambitious artists. 

Teaching Experience

I have nearly two decades of teaching experience in many different settings including private lessons for community music schools, conservatories and my own private studio, as well as group classes, masterclasses, workshops and clinics. 

My experience includes:

  •  Setting up the ideal embouchure and posture of beginner students and working with them on establishing sound playing fundamentals.
  • Helping high school students learn challenging repertoire for marching band, wind ensemble and jazz band as well as preparing them for auditions for all-state festivals and solo and ensemble competitions.
  • Presenting clinics and coaching the brass sections of youth orchestras in Boston and Houston. 
  • Working to prepare pre-college students for successful entrance auditions at competitive undergraduate music conservatories.
  • Working with pre-college students to prepare winning performances for the National Trumpet Competition.
  • Working with college students to advance their technique, expand their repertoire, and perform successful juries.
  • Helping adult students improve their trumpet playing and preparing them for challenging performances with community orchestras, wind ensembles or brass bands.

While pursuing my master of music degree at Rice University, I served as Adjunct Professor of Trumpet at San Jacinto College where I mentored trumpet students from diverse backgrounds, collaborated on faculty recitals, served on student juries and helped coach the brass choir. I completed my Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University in 2016 where my scholarly research focused on the influence of electronic music on modern compositional techniques. Recently, I worked on the compilation, editing and typesetting of Carmine Caruso, a sequel to Musical Calisthenics for Brass, published by Hal Leonard. We created an accompanying online video lesson series Caruso and Beyond, on which I collaborated on the content and helped to recruit hundreds of social media followers and paid subscribers. As an artist for the S.E. Shires company, I have presented master classes at Yale University and Texas Tech on trumpet design and the manufacture of custom instruments and was recently a finalist for the Assistant Professor of Trumpet positions at Colorado State University and Northern Illinois University, where I was invited for a campus visit, recital and master class. I currently teach at the Browning School in New York City and as a substitute instructor at Juilliard Pre-College.

My Teaching Philosophy

As an educator, it is my job to help my students develop the skills necessary to become dynamic performers and teachers. I believe in a flexible and positive approach, responsive to the unique strengths, weaknesses and musical goals of each student. I have found the following tenants to be most useful:

1.) Self-expression through Sound

The great joy of performing music is in its ability to communicate with other human beings and transmit emotions using sound as our medium. It is this excitement of sound, which makes us spontaneously move, dance and feel emotions. It ignited that first spark of interest in music and drew us to pursue it. My philosophy of teaching places this fundamental joy of self-expression through sound at the center, always remembering that the hard work of music study frees us to feel the joy of performing and opens us to the communicative power our expression has on listeners.

2.) Honoring each students different learning style & musical goals

There are many ways to be a musician. As a teacher I want to first understand what music the student loves and why they want to study it. Using this information we can create a customized curriculum of repertoire and studies that give the student a strong technical foundation and a wide palate of musicianship skills that will make them dynamic, expressive performers in any area. That may include playing in an orchestra, chamber ensemble, brass quintet, concert or military band, jazz ensemble, popular or commercial music, new music ensembles, historical period ensembles or charting their own course as an entrepreneur, composing and creating for their own groups, as well as becoming skilled educators, teaching band or private lessons to the next generation. 

3.) Seek musical solutions to technical challenges

We are musicians, who happen to play the trumpet. While everyone learns in different ways, I encourage my students to search for musical solutions to playing problems. Improvement happens quickly when we clarify and strengthen the image in our mind of what we want to hear, leaving us better able to sing it through our instrument. To further overcome technical challenges, I advocate for a “scientific method” approach of trial and error and creative problem solving strategies. We must ask difficult questions to find the path towards progress, and the more specific we can make our hypothesis, the clearer it will be to see potential solutions.

4.) Learn to teach ourselves

Above all my job is to teach students to teach themselves. In order to succeed they must take the information we discuss and put it into practice, making sense of it on their own. Coordination of the fine motor skills involved in playing a musical instrument can only be achieved through hard work, dedication and repetition until they become second nature. Only then can the instrument become an extension of the inner voice and allow the player to maintain focus on self-expression through music, and not on the operation of the instrument. 

5.) Music grows the whole person

Learning music makes us more well-rounded human beings. It improves a whole range of life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, listening and responding, discipline, creative problem-solving, imagination, self-expression, self-assessment self- reflection and many more that transfer into all other areas of life and learning. 

My Teaching Style 

1.) Targeted Practice=Faster Results 

I encourage all of my students to have a targeted approach to practice. I ask them to schedule when they will practice, what material will they work on and what their specific goals are for each session so that they will get the most out of the time they have available to practice. Formulating very specific goals leads to better practice habits, less mindless repetition and more thoughtful, variable practice, employing creative solutions to problems that stick long-term. It also produces a more acute sense of progress, whether across a single attempt at a difficult passage, or an entire practice session, thereby increasing motivation to continue investing in the process, strengthening a sense of increasing accomplishment. 

2.) Freedom to Fail

While making mistakes may seem painful to students, I see it as the most exciting part of the journey. It is that moment in which we learn the most. I strive to create an open, positive, and nurturing environment that allows students to fail confidently and quickly see where they can improve. We must seek situations of vulnerability in order to grow.

3.) Team-work makes it easier

We often learn as much from our peers as we do from our teachers and mentors. I encourage my students to collaborate and support each other, to play for each other regularly, listen to each other and to build a culture of teamwork and camaraderie. The daunting project of improving ourselves as musicians and trumpet players is easier when we encourage our colleagues and build each other up. This culture of respect and kindness makes my students good human beings that people want to hire, recommend, and work with. They build relationships that will last a lifetime.