I am active in music education. Every week during the school year, I work with music students privately, usually in one-on-one settings but also sometimes in duo lessons or as a coach for small ensembles.
Arnold Schoenberg once remarked that the complete musician is a performer, composer, and educator. This triumvirate is an apt and elegant description of a dynamic process. As satisfying as the act of performing is, it can lack the interpersonal contact, pedagogical elements, and philosophical issues that teaching engages in a different and more enriching way. The act of consciously verbalizing and conceptualizing how to play, working within and developing the culture(s) of music, understanding the acoustics and mechanics of the instrument, and gaining awareness of the somatic elements in playing all combine with empirical observation. This all helps to crystallize elements in my own playing and composing, and it forms a satisfying feedback loop between the stage and the classroom.
Teaching is an exchange which involves many facets. It enables me to: engage with students as individuals; analyze and solve technical problems based on bodily sensation, empirical evidence, and reasoning; encounter previously unconsidered musical questions and find answers; appreciate, facilitate, and engage different learning styles; develop different ways of thinking about musical fundamentals and how to apply them; and delve more deeply into the physical, somatic, and artistic principles behind woodwind playing. Ideally lessons are a mutual, reciprocal, and synergistic process. I often gain as much from the encounter as the other person does.
My main woodwind and improvisation teachers have included Thomas Walsh, Eugene Rousseau, David Baker, David Liebman, James Moody, Tony Malaby, Steve Coleman, Tim Timmons, Cynthia Price-Svehla, Randall Cunningham, Mark Cohick, and Aaron Simcox. All of them made an incalculable impact on my approach to teaching, but I still hope to bring something of myself, my experiences, and my worldview.
I strive to be an intelligent, empathetic, patient, observant, historically literate, and humorous teacher who imparts a strong sense of fundamentals, but also someone who encourages students to believe in themselves and to discover and bring out their own own character and approach. Music can be considered a form of philosophical activity as well as meditation, in the sense that it is interconnected with perception, psychophysical use, beauty and aesthetics, critical thinking, emotional awareness, language, and much more.
In the act of learning about the instrument, and in the continual process of learning itself (the root meaning of the word "discipline"), an individual gains knowledge about herself and her own responses. In the process of interacting with a machine at ever-more-subtle levels, it is really the body/mind which becomes, or is, the instrument.
I am inspired by many sources, but a few that I might especially single out include general principles drawn from the Alexander Technique, wonderfully described and applied in Ted Dimon's book "The Elements of Skill" as well as the ideas of J. Krishnamurti (Education and the Significance of Life) and David Bohm (Thought as a Process, Science, Creativity, and Order). I was significantly affected by my experiences in David Liebman's 2012 Saxophone Masterclass as well as my two week participation in the 2018 SIM (School for Improvised Music) seminars. Studying with Steve Coleman has reinvigorated my interest in the connection between vocalizing and woodwind performance as well as the psychophysical link of mind, body, and instrument. I am currently interested in studying and applying aspects of the Kodaly method to teaching rhythm.
I have coached many students on NYSSMA classical and jazz solos at levels I-VI. I have had woodwind students accepted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Middle School Jazz Academy, the New York Summer Arts program, the New York Pops Kids on Stage program, and the Summer Arts Institute. To date I have had one student accepted into Mark Twain Middle School for the Gifted and Talented; eight students accepted into LaGuardia High School; one into Frank Sinatra High School; and one into Talent Unlimited High School.
For several years, I was a performer on staff with Jazz at Lincoln Center's WeBop program, a program designed to teach core concepts of jazz music and history to children under the age of 6 and their parents.
I have presented masterclasses to middle school and high school students at Northrup High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Liberty North High School in Liberty, Missouri; and Oak Lawn Community High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
I am the private woodwind teacher for PS 126 in Manhattan, where I maintain a lessons studio with students in grades 6-8.
To get in touch with me, feel free to contact me here. I take private students in person and on Zoom.