I believe in hearing what students want to learn most, and making that information central to their individual curricula. Students fare best when space is consistently reserved for their input. I have watched each of my own students develop, retain, and expand their passion by giving them due attentiveness to their individual interests.
There are standard materials which every student must master before their private lesson curriculum is considered complete. Broadly, this comprises works from a, more or less, predetermined list of composers, scale work, and Romantic era études.
Students musical interests often run parallel, and occasionally in stead of, those things. Examples include repertoire of non-classical genres (e.g. Irish fiddle, American jazz, and Indian ragas) and extended techniques (e.g. harmonic trills, chopping, and strum pizzicati).
Many students never voice such musical curiosities to their mentors unless encouraged to do so. Despite even becoming bored of standard routines, those interests still remain silent — secret-like. Reasons for this often include ambient pressures toward conservatory conformities, the pupil’s concern with encountering elitism, and their intimidation by a mentor.
Therefore, realization of my teaching philosophy involves more than waiting for students to state their interests. 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 to voice their true interests, and teach these with genuine enthusiasm.”
—Dr. Immanuel T. Abraham, D.M.A.