Teaching High School Aged Students
"You have inspired me and given me a passion and deep appreciation for music that has and will continue to shape my life."
- Rachel, High School Student, 1999-2002
"I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate all your years of dedication as Dan's trombone teacher. You were his first teacher, and the development and opportunities he has had with your guidance have been immeasurable and beyond my highest expectations. I am so glad he stuck with it all these years (9 and still counting), and that we were lucky enough to have you there as his teacher, role model, and friend, watching him grow from beginner to advanced player."
- Chris, Parent of an Elementary through High School Student, 1991-1998.
- Bass Trombone
- Euphonium (Baritone)
- Beginning and Intermediate Trumpet
- Beginning Horn
My work with high school students ranges from helping kids who take part in a variety of other activities and wish to remain strong contributors to their school band program, to training players more exclusively focused on music, who take part in the wealth of advanced regional ensembles available in the area. As a teacher, I feel it is important to respect my student's choices about the amount of time they choose to commit to musical activities, as well as to encourage them to be ready for and receptive to as many musical opportunities as possible. I enjoy helping students find the unique way that music will fit into the fabric of their high school career, and lives in general.
A typical high school student might either be working through an Early Advanced Trombone Method, which I have self-published, or be working through the standard literature common to college and advanced high school level training. Preparation for recitals and special auditions are key parts of the teaching year.
I incorporate Jazz improvisation, playing by ear, embellishing melodies, and transposition holistically into lessons as a vital part of training the complete musician, and an opportunity for learning music theory in a "hands-on", experiential way.
I have developed a comprehensive set of assessment tools for use with new students. These checklists and graded playing and rhythm exercises allow me to efficiently and thoroughly identify a new students strengths and weaknesses in a manner that is enjoyable to the student.
Its important to spend a little time at the start of lessons in conversation, to catch up, and get comfortable.
- Warm-ups and Basic Skill Building
I believe in a succinct warm-up that gets a player ready to play, and provides a framework for working on fundamentals of breathing and tone production, tonguing, flexibility (slurring), and range. I use a lot of demonstration and imitation in this part of the lesson.
- Assigned Material
The burden now shifts to the student to demonstrate what they have learned since the last lesson. Questions are discussed and confusing topics explained as clearly as possible. Feedback is given and any achievements are celebrated. The process of practicing is explored as needed.
- Goal Setting
We pick specific, doable goals together for the next lesson. As time allows we "preview" new music to get the ball rolling and clear up any misconceptions at the outset.
- Model for Practice
The lesson becomes a model for the student's own practice sessions. The content of the lessons establishes what the student should be practicing at home, and the standard of quality and effort set in the lesson hopefully becomes an ideal for the student in practice.
If a private student doesn't understand what I have told them, then I need to find a different way of explaining it that connects - a challenge I enjoy.
Some of the key principles of communication for me are:
- Put first things first.
- Expect the best.
- Seek to understand then be understood. Listen before talking, think before acting.
- Get to the point.
- Change what they do, not who they are.
- Model the behavior you desire.
- Adapt your approach to the person.
- Provide for dignity and self-respect.
- Appeal to self-interest using natural rewards.
- Rejoice at success.
- Feel your losses with remorse not guilt.
- Think win/win--synergize.
- Sharpen the saw--take time out to improve yourself and your teaching methods.
- Be positive and enthusiastic.
- Use tension dissolvers.
Here are some links to pages on this site that will help you get a good sense of what my teaching is like.
- Student Success Stories
- Books that have influenced my teaching
- Student news - see what my students are doing
- Audio Sound files - hear recordings of my students
- My Top Ten Tips for Teaching Trombone
- See Handouts I have developed for my teaching
- Also, please see the appropriate category on the links to the left.
To schedule a lesson, or If you have other questions about my teaching, please feel free to email me.