Teaching Philosophy And Approach

As teacher I see my role as a musical mentor or coach to my students.

The foundations of my teaching philosophy are:

  • to teach students how to become the total musician.
  • matched to the student’s learning style, and therefore, my teaching style, curriculum, and approach are flexible, varied, and individual.
  • empowering a student is the key to motivation. My role as musical mentor is to introduce possibilities.

The underpinnings of my teaching approach are based on the work of Gordon (Music Learning Theory), Kodály, Dalcroze and Schenker. My teaching approach picks from these methodologies and combines them with my own material and traditional approaches. Central to my teaching is "You are the Instrument". Learning music is a process of increasing auditory understanding. Audiation, is the foundation of all musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. Audiation occurs when listening to music, performing from notation, playing "by ear," improvising, composing, or notating music. My students build their audiation skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before notation and music theory. Students read music notation, after they have developed the ability to audiate the note patterns written on the page. Reading becomes a process of pre-hearing rather than decoding. Other core principles:

  • Tonal and Rhythm patterns, not individual notes, are the basic units of meaning in music. I use tonal solfege "moveable do with a la-based relative minor", Gordon’s beat function rhythm syllables and numerical syllables for harmony.
  • Singing is essential. The instrumentalist learns to physical manipulate the instrument as an extension of the inner audiation instrument.
  • Focus on the ears. Learn many tunes by ear.
  • Rhythm is felt in the body through movement; it is not simply processed intellectually.
  • Improvisation is developed by audiating a tunes tonal and rhythm patterns.


Learning Sequences in Music, Skill, Content and Patterns, A Music Learning Theory by Edwin Gordon. 1997, GIA Publications, Inc. Chicago.
The Gordon Institute For Music Learning (GIML)
Wikipedia on Zoltán Kodály
Wikipedia on Émile Jaques-Dalcroze
Wikipedia on Heinrich Schenker