As a post-secondary studio teacher of violists, my ultimate goal is to help them move seamlessly into successful graduate studies, performing careers, and teaching careers. While I keep these goals in mind in my day-to-day teaching, I am confident that students learn best when I help them adhere to three main tenets in their playing: playing their instrument should be a source of joy, physically comfortable, and a medium through which one expresses a singular creative voice. When I guide students to commit to these ideas, they increase their learning capacity in two ways: they gain a manageable and clear focus, and they expand their concept of what will make them great violists and musicians.
The sentiment that “playing should bring them joy” does not assume that every moment a student spends with her instrument is enjoyable; rather, I encourage the student to find the aspect of playing that is most joyful for herself, and to seek to imbue every aspect of music-making with that joy. For myself, the act of performing always brings some thrill. When I approach demonstrating in a lesson with the same excitement I would bring to a performance, my point is clearer and more convincing to a student. I also make an active effort in my practicing to achieve some of the exhilaration and spirit of a live performance. Conversely, students who love practicing but fear performing need encouragement to approach a performance with a one-step-at-a-time mentality: the recital is but a single measure in the process of learning a piece. I strive to help students develop practice methods that are self-aware and positive, rather than solely relying on negative personal feedback and rote drilling of passage-work.