Thoughts on Teacher/Student Relationship
I believe everyone who has ears, hands, and feet has the innate tools necessary for playing music on the harp. The job of me, as the teacher, is to help students find the coordination to sing through the instrument. I also find that students learn best, technically and musically, when they are engaged and happy, so I do all that I can to facilitate this in lessons. I am a nurturer by nature and, instead of fear, intimidation, or constant reminders of things going wrong, I try to find ways to help the student that come from a childlike sense of enjoyment, fun, and ease. When it fits with the goals of a lesson, I try to give students opportunities to see my own example of playing in a lesson, through watching, singing, clapping, and playing duets together. Because of my background in the Alexander Technique, I approach technical issues from a developmental point of view, looking at what our systems are naturally made to do and applying that knowledge to playing the harp.
In addition to this approach, I like to give students a foundational understanding of melody, harmony, and rhythm that allows them to play from a solid sense of musical comprehension. In young children, I present this through games, and in young adult and adult students, I try to present it from many directions, through repertoire and learning concepts away from the instrument. I enjoy thinking of creative ways to introduce different aspects of music and the harp in lessons and group settings.
Currently, I teach in the Urbana, Kankakee, and Homewood, Illinois and the Valparaiso and South Bend, Indiana areas through university programs at Saint Mary's College, University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso Unversity, and Olivet Nazarene University and as an affiliated teacher with the Homewood Public Schools harp program.