My Music Teaching Manifesto

I’m a big fan of happiness guru Gretchen Rubin who encourages people to write a manifesto for activities they are regularly involved in. This week I finally sat down to write my own music teaching manifesto. Ten basic goals that I try to achieve in every lesson and class. I know that I sometimes fall short of these, but hopefully having them in writing will keep me focused on what matters most to me will and help my students to understand what I hope they can expect from me. Each of these is simply a headline-style reminder. I’m sure I could write several paragraphs about each of the topics and may well do so in future posts.

1. Do all I can to inspire an enduring love of music-making.

2. Provide a welcoming environment conducive to learning. Including a safe place to make mistakes.

3. Teach students practice concepts so they can make progress without me.

4. Give clear instructions, honest feedback, and documentation of progress.

5. Encourage independent thinking. Students should develop their own musical personalities.

6. Help students to build a repertoire of pieces for performance.

7. Build confidence by finding students opportunities to perform or play with others.

8. Understand each student’s motivation, goals, and style of learning.

9. Keep it challenging but light. Students want to have fun as well as learn.

10. Continually reevaluate old approaches and look for new ones. I have to keep learning, too.

Do you have a manifesto related to teaching or presenting music? If so please share it in the comments!

Photoby Marc Mennigmann HANDS Project

Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar from Lucas Reilly on Vimeo.

I was recently chosen as the subject of a photojournalism project by Ohio University student Lucas Reilly. Lucas is a former student and it was great to reconnect with him and have him shadow me for a few days. Not only did he impress me with his photos, but he was amazingly professional and discrete while capturing these images.

Guitar Flash Mob and Student Recital January 28 2012

After several months of scheming and planning the first ever Athens Ohio Guitar Flash Mob finally happened on Saturday morning. We met at 10:15am to rehearse and at 11:00am we encircled the farmers market shoppers in the center of the mall with 28 acoustic guitarists and launched into Don McLean’s epic song “American Pie.” Each verse featured a different singer (listed below) and everyone joined in on the choruses. By the final two choruses we had just about everyone in the mall singing along. I felt it was a great success and hope to organize a similar performance again sometime in the future. Scroll down for more information on the mob and for photos. I’ll put more behind-the-scenes information in a different post.

American Pie Flash Mob Singers
Verse 1: John Horne • Verse 2: Tag Hauschild • Verse 3: Lucas Reilly • Verse 4: Dan Wasserman • Verse 5: Charlie Houtz • Chorus Singers: Peter Babrow • Sarah Clary • Jordan Dean • Marcus Fakler • Craig Garrelts • Sydney Hardy • Zach Hitchcock • Brad Huffman • Erin Malone • Carter McCutchan • Brytton McGuire • Emersynn McGuire • Misha Mochanov • Matt Oviatt • Zach Quillen • Kyle Reynolds • Rockin’ Reggie Robinson • Sam Terkel • Madison Vassari • Nick Weckman • Mike Witter • Kevin Xiao • Ben Ziff • (Please let me know if I missed anyone!)

Following the flash mob performance I held a short student recital. The program is below.

Student Recital Program – Saturday January 28 2012

Charlie Houtz
Rock Riff Medley: Sweet Home Alabama • You Really Got Me • Back in Black • Crazy Train • I Love Rock and Roll
Star Wars – John Williams

Zach Hitchcock
Volga Boatman – Traditional Russian Folk Song
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Johnny Marks

Peter Babrow
Readymade – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Jordan & Milena Dean
I Love Rock & Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Tag Hauschild
Crossroads – Eric Clapton

Eme McGuire
Alchemy – Girls Dead Monster

Kevin Xiao
Home – Jack Johnson
Across the Universe – John Lennon

Justin Dowler
Layla – Eric Clapton
Blues Jam in A