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Philosophy of Teaching

Philosophy of Education

My teaching philosophy is based upon the desire to create and share high quality choral music.  Studying the choral art form encourages skills that can be used in several academic and content areas, as well as nonacademic applications. Choral music, in performance and rehearsal, can lead to myriad important tools and skills including many extramusical traits that can and need to be learned.  It is my goal to teach these goals: an appreciation (if not love) for choral music, an awareness of music both in and out of the classroom, and music’s inimitable ability to “speak”, through a complete understanding of musical literacy as a language.  It is my responsibility to teach students how to think critically and creatively, how to solve problems in and out of the music classroom, as well as how to develop goals and aspirations while working on individual strengths and weaknesses.  I want to prepare my students to become leaders in their fields, whether musical or nonmusical, and to strive for excellence in all they do.
            I will choose high quality repertoire that will challenge, yet match the needs of each ensemble.  In this selection process it is important to remember both individual and group needs and to always provide a challenge so that students have the opportunity to continuously learn.  The rehearsal process will enable students to learn musical and extramusical skills, allowing them to make educated decisions in and out of the choral classroom.  Appreciation and awareness of music as well as musical literacy is taught in the rehearsal process and promotes further interest in music.  Audience education is another important goal for students as well as members of the community.  Selected repertoire will challenge listeners as well as provide aural enjoyment.
            The educational process is of vital importance.  It is my responsibility to recognize individual student needs so each student can reach his or her maximum potential in my classroom.  Learning styles vary within a classroom and it is my desire to recognize these differences, and to teach my students to recognize the differences so that we may be united in understanding how the group functions as a whole.  Repertoire is not my only intended goal.  Sight readings, history of music, the world, and cultures, aural skills, performance practice, problem solving, individual responsibility, respect, and self-confidence are other goals I have for my classroom.  While meeting these pedagogical needs, it is my responsibility to continuously adapt my teaching styles to my students’ continually evolving needs. 
            The choral rehearsal is where most learning takes place.  It is my wish to teach in an open and communicative environment allowing students to learn both musically and extramusically.  Students should be able to recognize problem areas and set goals for the ensemble and for themselves as individuals.  Warm-ups will vary depending on the repertoire allowing students to learn new problem solving skills and encourage continuous learning.  Student reflection of rehearsal is imperative in this continuous learning cycle.  Not only do learning styles vary and adapt, but so do teaching styles.  It is my intent to continuously allow new opportunities for students through guided questioning and student feedback.  This process can allow students to succeed and build a healthy learning environment between teacher and students and creates trust and commitment.
            The choral rehearsal is not the only place where students are taught.  Performances allow students to showcase what they have learned as well as to apply many of their skills learned in the classroom.  Performance evaluation allows students to recognize strengths and weaknesses within an ensemble and further allows for goal setting opportunities, which is crucial in the learning process.
            It is my intention to demonstrate professional behavior to my students.  Therefore, it is important for them to see me effectively communicate, have strong organizational skills, and to see a physical example of professionalism through attire and appearance.  According to Dr. Haim Ginott, a child psychologist, “Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.”  In addition to the classroom, it is important for me to prepare students for extracurricular settings as well.  A curriculum including historical, theoretical, and social aspects allows for conversation amongst peers and colleagues as well as between students and other educators.  These skills further promote extracurricular and extramusical skills that are necessary for each student’s well-rounded education.
            Through classroom discovery and a carefully chosen curriculum students will have the opportunity to apply their education and principles they learn in rehearsals to each new learning environment.  As Clay P. Bedford once said, “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”  It is my intent to teach students a multitude of skills including but not limited to musical appreciation, musical awareness, musical literacy, team building, interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, effective communication, leadership, and to remember that learning is never-ending and can take place anywhere and everywhere.