I am a graduate of the High School of Music and Art. I studied composition at Carnegie-Mellon University with Lukas F. and Leonardo B., and with Milton B. at the Juilliard School, where I received both a Bachelor and a Master of Music. Thereafter, I studied Clarinet with Allen B., and Composition with Joseph D., Jonathan K. and Fred L. at Columbia University where I was awarded a Doctorate with distinction.
Currently Special Projects Coordinator for The Leonard Bernstein Office Inc., I recently served as Visiting Lecturer at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. I am on the faculty at Yeshiva University and Columbia University in New York. I have also taught at the Juilliard School, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the Association to Benefit Children, and New York University.
Mrs. K., my first grade teacher at PS 158, taught us that the most powerful and risky job in the world was teaching. My classmates, mostly aspiring astronauts, and firefighters, baseball players, police officers, and soldiers, joked around through missing front teeth. But she was right. A teacher can nurture a spirit of inquiry, a desire to understand, the courage to explore ideas, the ability to communicate, a capacity to collaborate, and to think independently. A teacher can ignite vast stores of creative energy, can guide students to discover worlds of beauty, and can be the most reliable source of hope. My lifelong ambition has been to be a good teacher.
I have a great passion for music and for music making. Teaching has provided me the greatest opportunity to employ what I have cultivated as a musician. Any success I have had as an educator is directly attributable to the exemplary teachers in my life. These are people who continue to inspire, and illuminate my work. Because of these teachers and my students, I continue to learn. In my courses, I strive to elucidate complex musical concepts and terminology for those who find intellectual exploration a barrier against pursuing music as an academic discipline. I introduce students to a wide range of musical works, some of which demonstrate, in a coherent and concise way, the more complicated musical ideas and, wherever possible, I share with my students music that has become part of me, pieces that I feel have been essential to my life; both in my development as a musician and in my experience as a person whose life is music.
With careful instruction, I strive to nurture and cultivate critical thinking about music and to prepare musicians to face the incredible demands of today. As an area of study, music incorporates many other disciplines. Thus, I integrate examples into lessons that demonstrate how music connects with science, math, philosophy, and history. I take the time to discover who my students are. I work to connect to their lives, to ascertain the music and musical experience that is a part of them. I use this knowledge to engage them and to facilitate their engagement with one another. More broadly, my students learn through close collaboration in the classroom that music, from composer to performer to audience, is an art about collaboration. Through exposure to a wide variety of styles, and a discovery that musical laws apply despite stylistic preference, students learn to practice open-mindedness, and tolerance.
In my classes, I try to strike a balance between teaching students the curriculum and encouraging them to make their own discoveries. I believe deeply in the discovery process. I make myself available as a guide. I seek to create a collegial environment while following a clear curriculum. I encourage collaboration while maintaining a strong leadership role. I actively work to demystify music and musical perception. Because listening and critically discussing music is a demanding task, I endeavor to make myself available always, and to make music readily accessible, providing recordings online, and CDs on reserve. Often, I construct homework assignments around music performed at concerts that I require my students to attend. This adds depth and meaning to the concert-going experience. Inevitably, the sections of the concert they enjoy the most are those with which they are already familiar, and the parts least captivating are those that are unexplored. The concert hall can be a challenge, and I find that this method breaks them in gently.
I aspire daily to teach with excellence and to guide students to effective strategies for learning. Practice and reflection have nourished my capacity to connect with students, to connect them with one another, and all of us to music. I believe these connections illuminate the path to learning.
As far as I know, none of my elementary school classmates became astronauts or baseball players (though many may be heroes in their own way). Yet, Mrs. K. shaped our destiny. We came to know and respect ourselves and one another, to see ourselves, each other and the world through the prism of this eminently skilled, most knowledgeable, confident, gentle, and compassionate leader, whose belief in our infinite potential continues to be reflected in my life as a teacher and as a musician in all its multiplicity of expression.
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