Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a cello teacher is to inspire and enable the student to become his or her own best teacher.  This includes: helping students to become aware of their own bodies and mental processes as they relate to playing the instrument; training the ear to recognize and react to the slightest variations of pitch, tone color and vibrato; inspiring a curiosity into the historical contexts and performance practice of the repertoire; and developing a strong foundation of core techniques using scales, etudes, and other technical exercises.

Every cellist accumulates unique physical and mental habits over the course of the many hours spent in the practice room, and these habits almost always have some discernible limiting effect on the expression of musical ideas.  My approach is to ask probing questions that lead to the discovery of new ways to relate to the instrument.   On a kinesthetic level, this may be asking the student to move in unconventional ways to highlight his or her ingrained patterns, or merely drawing the attention to a certain muscle group.  Always, the goal is to increase the palette of available sounds so that he or she can make musical decisions independently and unrestricted by the body.

Patterns of internal mental dialogue also arise in most of us, usually subconsciously, and can hinder efficient practicing and effective performance.   I try to help students recognize their own mental habits so that they may use the constructive ones to greater benefit, and discourage or eliminate those that are inefficient or destructive.

Training the ear is an integral part of my teaching.   I find that a great many issues ranging from intonation to sound production stem from the lack of acute listening during practice sessions.  With patience and focus the brain can be trained to make strong connections between the “mind’s ear” and specific left- and right-hand techniques. Eventually students can literally play what they hear in their heads with a high degree of accuracy.

It is important for each student to develop practice strategies specific to his or her own personality and goals.  To this end, I spend a good deal of time in lessons helping the student learn how to practice more effectively.

My most important mission as a teacher and mentor is to foster within my students a deeper understanding of themselves, not only in their relationship to the cello and to music, but as human beings.  Making music is an important element of the human condition, and as such, reflects a wide range of human emotions and experiences. Ultimately students must find their own personal, authentic musical identity.