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Image by David Holifield

My Workshops


Teaching Philosophy

To mentor students so they can reach their full potential in the most natural and healthy way possible, regardless of their pianistic goals. Developing a sense of community in the studio has always been important to me in teaching others as learning includes a “family” of pianists and musicians who learn from each other and enjoy making music together.

Wellness Resources for the Musician:
What to know and Where to Find It

This presentation will give an overview of the most current resources available on musician wellness. A summary of the best resources available to musicians interested in the following wellness topics will be examined: basic resources for all musicians; the best resources concerning the physiological and psychological aspects, including the mind/body connection, hearing loss and eating disorders. Finally, wellness and healthy practicing resources available for singers, brass players, woodwinds, string players, guitarists, conductors, percussionists, and piano will be reviewed. Each resource will be looked at with an overview of what is most valuable about the resource, how it is organized and what is unique about this particular resource. A “desert island” type of list on musician wellness resources with the purpose of giving an overview of what different musicians will want in their basic library for teaching all students whether adults, young children or college age students about healthy practicing, prevention, injury and performing is the focus of this workshop. There will be a ten-minute question and answer period at the end of the presentation.

The Art of Journaling, Sharing and Reflecting: Cultivating Effective Communication with Students

We as music teachers come to lessons prepared to tackle student problems and our intention is to show them strategies that they would not necessarily learn on their own. However, once they leave our studio, we do not have a “catbird” seat where we listen, hear, monitor and evaluate their practice. This presentation will focus on the relationship between student and teacher, and creating an atmosphere of sharing, journaling and reflecting to help students learn the art of practice and performance. Teaching students to use practice journals to share and reflect upon regularly using a process of “banking their reflections and affirmations” will be examined. In reality, lessons normally focus on basic issues that are technical in nature, however, the development of the psychological skills necessary to make music in front of an audience lags pedagogically behind physical development. Athletes are taped and evaluated daily during their playing seasons and coaches review practices with athletes, discussing both the physical and the psychological mind set needed in the playing field. This discussion will show how students can create affirmations and use effective journaling methods about themselves to communicate with their follow peers in overcoming adversity and to obtain psychological satisfaction while music making.

Implementing Teaching Strategies into Your Studio that Promote Wellness, No Matter What age-level you Teach 

This session will focus on several unique perspectives within the broad topic of practicing, including focus on the subjects of creativity and body awareness, providing guidance for helping students return to practice and performance following an injury and how this relates to secure performing and cultivating the mental skills that will promote peak performance.

Helping students to redirect their practice sessions in “mid-stream” during the learning process by utilizing a variety of smart techniques that often requires a shift in what and how to practice repertoire will be examined. The discussion will continue with what the current role of an instructor is, should an injury occur while at the same time, choosing appropriate repertoire throughout the stages of recovery and facilitating the injury/recovery process with the student in a positive way. Specific practice strategies will be explored in order to help reduce anxiety during practice, rehearsals and performance. How to cultivate mental skills for students to develop during performance preparation so we as teachers can act as athletic coaches in helping students find ways to deal with the stress and anxiety of performing (even after successes in the practice room) will be given through offering a set of mental activities and assignments that mentally prepare students for the unexpected distractions and emotions that often occur on stage.

With or Without a Curriculum: Wellness Activities that Promote Healthy Practicing and Performing

Much has been written over the last twenty-five or so years about musician wellness but until recently, little has been actually written about how to implement activities that promote musician wellness into a curriculum or studio lesson regardless of the ages we as pedagogues teach. Basic awareness of how nutrition, diet, mental health, physical wellbeing and developing healthy practicing techniques can be taught with or without a set curriculum will be summarized in this discussion. The nuts and bolts of any music students’ profile should include basic and healthy characteristics. All of this is tied into where students are when we first teach them to where they want or need to be as they musically progress. Wellness courses or extracurricular activities should include how to develop basic practice schedules, practice analysis, relaxation techniques, affirmations, how to achieve peak performances (including the body/mind connection) as well as basic information on the physio-skeletal makeup of our bodies with regard to playing and instrument and an awareness of how to take care of our bodies are things that can be taught with or without a set wellness course.

Particular focus on developing such activities as having students write about their practice techniques that they have found useful, keeping a daily practice journal that includes diet and exercise, guest lecturers that speak to all students, the importance of taking frequent breaks during practices and reevaluation of goals and repertoire will be reviewed. 

Team Teaching a Wellness Course

Teaching a course that educates students about musicians’ health and safety can be accomplished in many ways. This discussion will review how three professors have combined their different disciplines (music, athletic training and psychology) to develop a course that teaches the essential skills music students need in developing a musculoskeletal and psychological awareness as a musician that directly applies to healthy practice and performance techniques.

Addressing Issues on the Maintenance of Health and Safety in a Music Program Regardless of Whether it is a Separate Course or Not

Implementing the maintenance of health and safety into a music program can be done in a variety of ways, regardless of the size or kind of music degrees offered at an institution. This session will examine different ways schools can educate students, staff and faculty on musicians’ health issues, both physiological and psychological on an on-going/semester by semester basis. Providing the necessary tools for understanding basic hearing health, proper vocal and musculoskeletal health, injury prevention, performance anxiety and mental health awareness will be reviewed.

Practice Strategies that Promote Healthy Music Making – Bringing Creativity and Body Awareness from the Practice Room to the Stage

Teachers understand that S.M.A.R.T. practice leads to higher-level performances. Leading our students into accomplishing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals will provide them with healthier results and the potential for lifelong enjoyable music making. Fostering creativity in students along with overall body awareness during all stages in the learning process is one of the most critical roles teachers play in helping students reach their full performance potential. This entails regular assessment and reevaluation of students’ practices.

Several approaches to help students develop a positive practice environment can happen during lessons/rehearsals that give them a “tool box” of practice techniques to include in their practices. Working with students to develop a practice schedule on what their specific goals are over the short term is important, so they leave the studio after each and every lesson/rehearsal with exactly how they need to practice their music over the next week. Naturally, the repertoire they are juggling will be at different places in the learning process. What to prioritize, how to maintain pieces, working on “smudges,” speed, phrasing, choreography, etc., and setting a specific roadmap for students along the practice journey is examined.

This workshop examines ways pedagogues can cultivate musicality and healthy technique through body awareness during lessons so students can stay motivated at every stage of the learning process. Particular focus on the so-called “middle stages” of learning which often entails teachers guiding students into shifting gears during their practice sessions will be discussed. Often, this is where students need redirection to fully develop musical phrasing and healthy gestures. Various teaching techniques for getting students from the practice room to the highest possible performance level they are capable of will be reviewed.

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