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Teaching Philosophy
for String Studies

“The best mentor is forever a student, retains a student's humility,

and teaches foremost by example."

—Dr. Abraham

Students do best when they are heard, and know we are listening.

As an educator, I have watched my students develop and expand their passions by honoring their individual interests.

Musical interests may run parallel, or "against" standards.  The largest examples for strings are the composers, scales, études, and new music of non-classical genres.(E.g., Irish fiddle, American jazz, and Hindustani music).

 

The fact must be consciously acted upon — that most students never voice unorthodox curiosities unless encouraged to. Reasons include elitism, fear of rejection, negative stereotypes, and intimidation by mentors who do not know and do not care. So, despite even becoming bored with standard routines, students often remain silent about these interests.

Some educators are ashamed for lacking the, often alien,  recourses to pursue them. Colleagues often  ask "How do I teach anything about Hindustani violin when I have never even heard of it?"  In the many instances where I also have not, this is how I select artists for their masterclasses, and propose studio field trips.  It is one of countless places where the educators retention of "student's humility" is vital, as well.

 

For these reasons, my teaching philosophy is rooted in encouraging students to speak up and being open to their interests.  Try jazz.  Try fiddle.  Write your own cadenza.  Let it strengthen the experience, knowledge, and art you pursue.

 

Encouraging discussion, space for curiosity, and omnipresent support, I believe to be our three largest responsibilities.

 

This approach supports students being heard and "at home" in their learning environment. This is the core of my teaching philosophy, and my approach towards its realization.

—Prof. Immanuel T. Abraham, South Dakota State University

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