Through The Lens is our weekly series where we highlight current students and faculty, capture them on campus and ask them about their inspirations, advice and beyond.
Describe the moment/s when you knew that you wanted to teach music.
I’ve always had a heart to try to help others, I taught in St. Louis before I went to MI as a student. After studying with a couple of teachers after graduating from MI they suggested that I inquire about teaching at MI. At first I thought no way can I teach at the level of the instructors that I was studying with. But I auditioned with Ralph Humphrey and Joe Porcaro and the rest is history really history (30 yrs). Once I started teaching and hearing some of my evaluations I wanted to continue teaching and I wanted to share all that I was blessed with.
Describe the training you have had as a musician and how that has that helped you as a teacher.
My training started in church. In church I learned things that I couldn’t describe until I became educated. I learned a vast majority of styles by playing at church such as big band because I had to set-up phrases for the choir. The vocals were like the horns they sang accented and syncopated rhythms. I had to learn the proper terminology once I became a student. The struggles I had as a student as for how to practice and dealing with life while still trying to excel at the highest level helps me to put myself in the students chair and try to see what they’re dealing with. As for a musician I do the same thing I share what I’ve learned both good and bad.
How do you describe your style of teaching? What kinds of things you think are important for a developing musician?
As for as my style of teaching I try to be as organic as possible. I try to learn how each student thinks and functions as a individual. Everyone’s DNA is different there is no one identical to the next. There may be similarities but I try my best to treat each student different. So if I can help each student recognize and know who they are and what voice it that they possess then that level of growth will last a lifetime.
What lessons did you learn from teaching music?
I learn learn something new just about every lesson that I teach. Because as I stated earlier each student brings something new to the table. For example if a student has a problem learning a certain pattern it’s up to me to get he or she to be able to play the pattern before the lesson is over. Usually I can get it done but sometimes I’m left trying to figure a way out in order for them to get the pattern so, once I get it then that’s a new approach in my tool box that I’ll remember if that problem ever comes up again. So one should always be ready to learn from the student as well as the student learning from the teacher.