Statement of Teaching Philosophy
As a teacher, I help students to engage with their artistic practice on a deep level and to share their unique voices through performance and scholarship.
I teach piano lessons through a combination of one-to-one lessons and group studio classes. In the first few lessons with a new student, I learn as much as I can about their musical background, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and temperament. Study plans are drafted first by each student at the start of the semester to help instill in each student a sense of ownership over their own learning. In studio classes, I take on the role of an interactive facilitator. Through discussions and activities, students with different learning styles and interests learn from one another. To help foster a sense of social responsibility, I require my undergraduate piano students to participate in at least one outreach activity sometime during their first year of studies, such as performing at a hospital or nursing home.
My approach to teaching piano literature and music history is informed by my perspective as a performer. Through performance, the music of the past is brought back to life, infused with the ethos of the here and now. In the classroom, I bring the dialogue between past and present to the fore in order to make the study of music history and repertoire relevant to my students—not only artistically relevant, but socially, politically, and spiritually relevant as well. Whenever possible, I tie course content to musical activities on campus. For example, when I learned that a number of students in my history class would be participating in a performance of Mauricio Kagel’s Exotica 2016, I augmented my lecture on exoticism with a discussion of the work. We compared Exotica to works such as Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Ravel’s Bolero, and considered whether Exotica is an example of exoticism or a satire of it. Similarly when teaching keyboard harmony, I supplement textbook examples with music that my students have played or enjoy listening to. For example, based on a particular student’s interest in Pink Floyd, I once supplemented a class on string quartet score reading with a quartet arrangement of Another Brick in the Wall.
To meet the challenge of working with a diverse group of students, with different abilities, I take special care to outline the course expectations for grades of A, B, and C at the outset. Whenever possible, I provide modified homework options for students who struggle. For example, in a keyboard harmony class, I may require students to be able to perform a given harmonic progression perfectly in twelve keys for a grade of A and six keys for a grade of B. Similarly, I typically include bonus questions for those at the top of the class. In lecture courses, provide opportunities for students to resubmit written work for a higher grade when possible. I have found that these practices enhance learning outcomes and reduce student stress. After midterm week, I ask students to complete self-assessments to help them reflect more deeply on their study habits and progress.
I also utilize technology to enhance learning and to encourage creative engagement. For example, when I teach Research Methodology, I asked students to create research websites instead of papers. Depending on the nature of their study, results can be presented in any combination of text, audio, and video. This assignment had the added benefit of helping to prepare students for a future in which academic journals are largely digital.
Whatever subject I am teaching, I require students to be active: to question and grapple with the subject matter at hand. I build relationships with students whereby they see themselves as agents of their own success and, while I maintaining a friendly and approachable manner, I make it clear to student’s that it is their responsibility to come to me for extra help if they need it. In my classes, students develop the strategies and skills necessary for independent, lifelong learning.
In sum, my pedagogical methods are designed to help students engage with classical music as a complex and powerful artistic tradition that is theirs to inherit and carry forward.
Undergraduate students at Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music (PGVIM) participate in a course sequence called "Contextual Studies." As part of this sequence, they work with faculty advisors to create unique recital experiences for their junior and senior recitals. The following are recital projects I have supervised.