My teaching philosophy simple and straightforward, but it is not fixed, because the very act of teaching demands flexibility: Students change, schools change, and I change. I acquire new information that changes my way of thinking and my way of approaching students. But, despite the fact that such change is inevitable, I approach teaching with some basic principles in mind.
First, I start by having no preconceived notions about what my students may or may not be, or about what they can or cannot do. I set the bar for learning and achievement high, and I make it clear to my students, through attitude and verbal encouragement, that I know they can reach and even surpass that bar, and that I expect them to do so. There is no room for “can’t” in my classroom, either on my side or on the students’.
My classroom philosophy is also deeply rooted in my personal convictions about the value of studying music. I believe that music as an academic subject is very important, but it is one that is sadly, and too often, shuttled off as an “elective.” Practically speaking, music teaches self-discipline in by requiring practice and appropriate performance behavior. Music also requires the ability to work effectively as member of a team and to cooperate with others in order to produce the best ensemble possible. Students enrolled in music classes have been shown to excel in other academic areas, applying the skills learned in music to other subjects. In addition, culturally speaking, music is one of the best ways to expose students, particularly young learners, to the topic of multiculturalism; all cultures have music, and all music shares certain fundamental building blocks. Understanding the music of many cultures throughout history is critical in a student’s development as a culturally knowledgeable individual. Finally, artistically speaking, music is just as important as visual art and literature in “feeding the soul.” Music is an intensely personal art form, and, through movement and performance, students can learn to tap that well of personal imagination and use it in all areas of their lives.
Lastly, as a music teacher, I strongly believe that music can reach some students in ways that other subjects cannot. It is especially important for any teacher to appeal to as many different kinds of learning – and learners -- as possible, and music is the perfect medium through which to achieve that goal. I have seen children who struggled in other academic subjects grasp complex concepts in music simply because music is a content area in which knowledge is gained in sensory and emotional ways as well as in cognitive ways.
Ultimately, as a teacher, I strive to teach the whole student. Music is my content area, but the student is my focus.