My goal is to prepare my students to become independent artists with a broad understanding of musical styles and a professional approach to music making. That means that beyond establishing a strong foundation, I make sure to provide the space and opportunities for each student to blossom, while I support and mentor them every step of the way.
To achieve excellence in clarinet performance, first I focus on building a strong foundation, starting with sound production and sound quality. I work with each student on establishing an aligned and relaxed posture, developing breath capacity, understanding and establishing a good embouchure and the control of partials, tonguing and tongue position, voicing, resonance, legato playing, intonation and how to develop one’s ear, achieving evenness across registers, and controlling various fingering speeds over open clarinet holes.
I teach these fundamentals through short technique exercises that focus on one aspect of clarinet playing at a time, and that serve a double purpose: first, they are daily exercises to develop a particular skill; then, they become tools that students learn to apply for problem-solving, to expand their interpretation and expression.
Weekly listening and score study assignments from my Basic Repertoire List allow students to expand their repertoire and develop their ear and knowledge of diverse styles and performance practices. My students implement basic research methods, and use resources they can find within their library, and elsewhere (Chamber Music America, ICA, etc.) to expand their knowledge, to satisfy their curiosity, and to take an active role in avoiding racial and gender inequality in music. Working with living composers is an extension of this work. For me and my students, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging is not an ideal on a page, but a way of life, from the way we communicate about music, to the music we perform, to the way in which we bring forth the power of music to our community to make this world a better place to live in.
At every lesson I give my students a work plan and the tools and strategies to achieve meaningful progress. A big part of this is teaching how to practice effectively, with the conviction that the more effective the practice is the better the performance will be. I strive to get each student to develop the vision, understanding, and skills necessary to effectively project their own well-defined performance.
I require my students to perform often to develop the art of performance, which takes practice and repetition. My goal is to get each student to perform with ease and comfort. In addition to imagination, eloquent communication, deep listening, and great focus, posture and movement are important parts of performance: they have a direct impact over the sound production, and they support one’s own style and interpretation. My students develop a rich body language in performance, including clear cuing.
By teaching my students to teach effectively, and by creating opportunities for them to practice teaching, my students become better performers, and they gain a skill they are likely to use for the rest of their lives.
I believe that both motivation and an insatiable curiosity are essential for students to develop their full potential.
Finally, my students understand the importance of being honest, responsible, and easy to work with, always communicating clearly. I foster my students’ entrepreneurial spirit and their passion to share their art with others, making sure they reserve time to give back to their community in meaningful ways, both through traditional channels and by creating new ones.