My ultimate goal as a teacher is to guide a student to become as complete of a musician as possible and, if desired, prepare them to have a career in music whether as a performer, an educator, or therapist. It is inevitable that at a certain point in a student’s development they will need to rely on the skills they have obtained and implement them on their own. This will happen only after a student has learned to achieve by setting and attaining personal goals for their musicianship.

A musician not only needs methodological training on their specific instrument, but an educated musical concept. In order for gratifying performance one must have a grasp of musical construction. Students should be able to distinguish and shape phrases, provide formal analysis in order to aid their performance, and have familiarity with genres and styles from many different periods. I regularly challenge my students to form their own ideas and to gain a deeper understanding of the music they are performing—thus helping my students succeed whether in front of an ensemble or within it.

That being said, musicians at any level need to continually refine their technique. For clarinet, specifically this includes having a good tonal concept, including breath support, breath control, embouchure, and tongue position. Having solid clarinet fundamentals, including a good hand position, legato fingers, a vocabulary of different articulations, knowledge of alternate fingerings, and recognizing and gaining command of the technical patterns commonly used in music. Other important things for clarinetists include having knowledge of published literature, emerging contemporary techniques, and having versatility on all the instruments in the clarinet family.

The academic side of a musical education and students’ private lessons are almost entirely correlated. I believe it is important to encourage students’ success in music theory, music history, and aural skills by applying these studies directly to their principal instrument. As the student is introduced to harmonic and melodic building blocks in their theory classes—their importance is secured in their lessons by implementing studies to prepare them to one day perform the music. I also encourage my students to know the background of the music they are preparing. Their familiarity with the genre, composer style, history of the piece, and performance practice is essential for successful performance. In lessons my students also sing, practice matching pitches, study rhythm, and play by ear in order to help them hone their aural skills.

I feel strongly about the importance of teacher preparation and value the opportunity to teach students of all majors. Receiving my undergraduate degree in music education has helped prepare me for teaching college by giving me essential knowledge of teaching and learning of any subject. I find myself regularly using the skills I obtained during my music education degree, and therefore feel continually renewed to my dedication to the development of quality music teachers.

Each student learns in different ways. I do my best to determine their learning style and form an individualized method of pedagogy that will help them succeed. I prepare my students with long-tones, exercises, repertoire, and etudes selected according to their needs. I hope these studies will become lifelong tools that they will use to hone their skills and implement into their teachings in the future.

Lastly, in order to be successful one must develop certain life skills. It is my job as a teacher to encourage organizational skills, give purpose to the work being done, help the student in setting appropriate goals, assist in developing time-management abilities, support creativity and self-expression, instill self-discipline, and most importantly to help the student to find their motivation. Motivation cannot be given and must be cultivated from supporting the students’ successes and encouraging them to reach for personalized goals. If I have had any part in the motivation of a student to achieve their goals, I have succeeded in mine.