My philosophy of teaching music lies at the nexus of cultural relevance, creativity, and lifetime musicianship. As a Suzuki violinist from the age of 2, bluegrass fiddler, pianist, and vocalist from 8, classical harpist from 16, and performer of classical, rock, blues, bluegrass, mariachi, electronica, hip-hop and many styles in between, I knew from childhood that my life would be perceived through the lens of music. I also learned over time that if I worked hard and lived from a place of service, my work and my art would not need to be separate endeavors. In this statement, I will describe how my lived experience has led me to the research questions that drive my work, and in doing so, how fostering an equitable and inclusive learning environment has been the spiritual foundation for my career as a researcher, educator, and performer of this sacred art form we call music.
I perceive music as an avenue for service to others, an integral accompaniment to society’s cultural rites of passage, and a vehicle for the sacred connection we have with ourselves and our communities of learning. In all curriculum and assessment, the common themes of engaging and serving one’s communities through courageous collaboration in music emerge.
My line of research is about co-creating a current vision for string education. I have built my career around excellence, inclusion, and student-centered teaching. My research follows a line from teaching public school orchestra creatively, to identifying and acknowledging the cultural and structural barriers that both students and educators face when attempting to do so, to the inquiry about what new kinds of general music curricula allow for a full and equitable participation in the music classroom. I am committed to solution-driven inquiry. Decades of inquiry and teaching experience have brought me to a current set of questions that drive my developing philosophy in music education. Can equity and student-centered learning be achieved in the existing large ensembles of band, orchestra, and choir or is there a need for new classes that meet the technological, social, and emotional needs of our changing society? My answer is a confounding “yes” to both. I offer skill sets over literature and the development of technique in the service of the emotional relevance to the learner. This is the kind of questioning that leads my work with music education students. They are our future and the teaching towards the future requires versatility, vulnerability, and curiosity.