Photo Credit: Caroline Arendec
I am a music educator with a specialty in string education. I have experience teaching all levels of public school orchestra and private violin, viola, and cello lessons to students of all ages. My collegiate teaching is primarily in the string technique/pedagogy realm, but I have assisted with and taught other music education courses as well. In addition, I have led two kids' handbell choirs. Please see below and/or my CV for more specific information. I am very willing to travel and work with student groups. If you are interested in having me come as a guest conductor, sectional teacher, judge, or some other role we plan together, please contact me. I am also happy to video-conference into classrooms to save expenses all around.
My teaching philosophy has changed through the years and I am certain this version will change again too. But I believe changes in philosophy can be good. Perhaps even better is the realization that one's philosophy can change and the effort one puts into thinking about it. I share this current version of my philosophy so that you will know what I value in my classroom and my teaching. This is why I do what I do.
Currently, I am an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado. I teach String Techniques, String Pedagogy & Literature, Introduction to Music Education, Comprehensive String Pedagogy for String Players, Technology for Music Educators, and I supervise student teachers. I also conduct our Campus String Orchestra and am the Director/Master Teacher of the UNC String Project. Previously, I taught at Ball State University. And I was fortunate to have a Graduate Assistantship through all my studies at Penn State. This allowed me to be a research assistant to Dr. Robert Gardner and also to assist with undergraduate classes. I taught String Techniques and assisted with all the other undergraduate music education courses, in addition to supervising student teachers.
This clip is from my String Techniques class at Ball State (Nov. 2015, 16 min). This is the second half of the semester and the students have been on these instruments for about three weeks. In this clip the basses learn to shift and then we continue to practice new tunes, with technique interjections and guidance from me.
The next two clips are from my Intro to Music Ed course at Ball State (Nov., 2015). The first is an activity and discussion with the students about using appropriate facial expressions while singing and teaching (9 min). And the second clip is me demonstrating how to teach a song by rote and introduce a musical concept so that the students will be prepared to do the same in peer teaching episodes (13 min).
This clip is from a lesson very early in our String Techniques semester at Penn State (Jan. 2013, 5 min). The students are just learning to put down left hand fingers. We use a sequence of patterns to work on these finger patterns. Here we are singing and playing through these patterns and then putting the notes into practice while playing "Bile 'em Cabbage Down."
This clip is a bit later in the semester at Penn State (Feb. 2013, 6 min). I am teaching without talking and the students are learning "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" by rote.
This longer clip (20 min) is from the same class in Feb. 2013. But because the clip is longer you can see: the students finish tuning, we practice a tune that hasn't been touched in a while, and we learn a song by rote (with no talking from me). Throughout there are short "teacher hat" discussions where we examine the activity from the perspective of the teacher.
I have been a teaching assistant, and occasional primary instructor, for Instructional Materials in Music, Instructional Practices in Music, and the Cohort Practicums at Penn State. These are all music education courses, taken by juniors. I have also covered the Freshman Seminar class on occasion when a “substitute teacher” was required.
This clip is from a lesson I taught in "Instructional Practices in Music" at Penn State (April 2014, 6 min). In this lesson we reviewed the very basics of playing a string instrument (posture, right hand & left hand exercises), something many of these students hadn't done in a year-and-a-half.
This video is from the same course but is a lesson on using technology in the music classroom (March 2013, 13 min). These clips include me demonstrating some technologies, breaking the students into groups to explore, and listening as they share what they found (including me responding to a student who says he found good "time wasters").
I have been working with K-12 students since I was a K-12 student. As a high school student I worked with several middle school students, teaching weekly private lessons. As an undergrad I began teaching at our after school, beginning violin program my very first semester. When I graduated I became the Orchestra Director at a high school in Burlington, NC and had a fabulous time working with students in a variety of ensembles and a variety of locations as we loved to travel! And I am incredibly grateful that my time at Penn State included working with K-12 students. At UNC I am now the Director & Master Teacher of the UNC String Project and I get to teach elementary/middle school-age students every week. I regularly clinic local school ensembles, adjudicate festivals, and conduct honor orchestras.
Here is the Penn State Partners in Music group (5th grade students) working on "Defender of Time" (Nov. 2013, 12 min). We listen to a recording and then work through sections of the piece, focused especially on dynamics, expression, and following the conductor. The cellos & basses did some detailed rhythm & intonation work, with my help on viola.
This clip is us playing "Shalom Chaverim" (Nov. 2011, 5 min). We're doing very detailed work by section and I use my viola to demonstrate and play along several times.
I have been fortunate to conduct a variety of different ensembles. As a high school Orchestra Director I led string orchestras, symphonic orchestras, chamber ensembles, and popular music ensembles, among others. At UNC I conduct the Campus String Orchestra and have conducted a number of local and regional honor orchestras.
This clip is from the final concert at the Baldwin Wallace University Summer Orchestra Program (June 2013, 3 min). We're playing "Dance of the Tumblers" by Rimsky-Korsakov, arr. by Dackow.
This video is from the Bard Conductors Institute where we're playing an excerpt from Mahler's Symphony No. 9, IV (July 2013, 5 min). After the orchestra runs through the excerpt the orchestra members offer comments about my conducting.
I had a small private studio of violin, viola, and cello students in Bellefonte, PA. Repertoire was decided upon with input from the student but typically included scales and/or etudes, classical melodies, and eclectic tunes (perhaps folk tunes, jazz, or Disney classics).
I understand that paying for lessons can be a challenge so I am always willing to discuss changes in fees or payment plans. In general, I request the following:
30-minute lesson: $15
45-minutes lesson: $20
1-hour lesson: $30
Photo credit: Philip Fulcher
Additional Teaching Experiences
In addition to my college, K-12, and private lesson teaching I have been able to work with students in several other ways. As seen in the clip below (April 2013), I led the children's handbell choirs at Faith UMC in Bellefonte, PA. I started this choir and it grew so much that just after this video was taken we split into two groups, divided by ability level. In the past I have also taught SAT prep classes and have been a camp counselor/teacher at several summer camps.