Teaching philosophy

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My teaching philosophy

Two core beliefs shape my approach to teaching: students learn best by doing, and the students and I are on a learning journey together. As a musician, I bring my professional performing experience into the classroom on a daily basis, offering students examples of how what they are learning now will help them in the professional world. As my teaching has expanded to include more non-music majors, I have sought new ways of making these kinds of connections. I try to incorporate a variety of approaches, ranging from short, in-class writing assignments and small-group discussions about the reading to playing heavy metal songs on the electric bass in class and teaching students how to program a drum machine. In my popular music classes, I value the perspectives that students from diverse majors bring to the conversation. During a meeting of my rap class, we were discussing how music can “sound race.” One student contributed some information from a communications class she was taking, suggesting that bell hooks’ idea of “eating the Other” could be a useful way to think about listening to rap. Another student added an idea from his sociology class about how the self creates society and society shapes the self. As a class, we used these ideas to broaden our discussion from sounding race to consuming race, and what factors might stimulate our “appetite.” I believe that, if I’m doing my job right, I’m learning as much from the students as (I hope) they learn from me, and that improves the experience for everyone.