I believe in hearing what students want to learn most, and making that central to their individual curricula. Students fare best when space is for their opinion is reserved, and honored. I have watched each of my own students develop and expand their passion by ensuring due attentiveness to individual interests.
There are standard materials which must be mastered before any curriculum is considered complete. Broadly, this comprises works from a, more or less, predetermined list of composers, scale work, and Romantic era études, and new music.
Student's musical interests often run parallel, and sometimes in stead of, those things. Examples include repertoire of non-classical genres (e.g. Irish fiddle, American jazz, and Indian ragas) versus standard etudes covering extended techniques (e.g. harmonic trills, chopping, and strum pizzicati).
Many never voice such curiosities to their mentors unless encouraged to do so. Reasons for this often include ambient pressures toward conservatory conformities, the pupil’s concern with encountering elitism, and their intimidation by a mentor. Despite even becoming bored of standard routines, said interests often remain silent — secret-like.
Therefore, realization of my teaching philosophy involves more than waiting for students to state musical expansiveness. It is rooted in encouraging it. Try jazz. Try fiddle. Try writing your own cadenzas. Try improvising in this genre you never heard.
Friendly discussions regarding their musical curiosities, exemplary performances of purposefully-broad repertoire, and an omnipresent atmosphere of encouragement, I believe to be our three largest responsibilities in this.
This pedagogical form supports students in feeling heard and at home in their learning environment. This is the core of my teaching philosophy, and my approach towards its realization.
“The private music teacher should listen well, encourage the individual's true interests, and teach these with genuine enthusiasm.”
—Dr. Immanuel T. Abraham, D.M.A.