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TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

 

 

Teaching can be defined as an all-encompassing investment in every student with whom the teacher connects. This investment is not only directed at the specific subject area, but in the complete person. As a result of sound pedagogy and genuine interest and care for each learner, students will be inspired, challenged, encouraged, uplifted, eager, and prepared to ask questions that advance their understanding along their educational journey. 

 

Many different methods for teaching exist and there is no “correct” method. This variety supports the fact that so much of teaching is personal and unique to each learning environment. Every person, teacher and student alike, approaches life through a scope influenced by his/her own experiences. The call to the teacher is to harness and direct those experiences to further students’ learning and to prepare them for the future. This calling is not easily accomplished and requires a great deal of sensitivity, empathy for students, and devotion to the art of teaching. In essence, teachers are students themselves as they are continually learning how their students learn and adapting lessons to best meet their students’ needs. 

 

I believe every statement above and I strive to embody them in my own teaching. As I have experienced a variety of teaching approaches in my career, I have noticed a repeating cycle wherein: 1) each educational experience informs the next, 2) adjustments are made to the lesson with the target of helping students to learn concepts more efficiently. Simply stated, the best learning situation for one student cannot be universally applied to all students. Thus, I seek to adapt and adjust my teaching style to the needs of each individual student. 

 

As a teacher of singing, my focus is to guide students’ musical discoveries throughout their education. I strive to create a safe environment for students to experience and play with new concepts while drawing conclusions on how their perceptions are solidifying and/or changing in that moment. It is my role as their teacher to validate students’ feelings and findings from their explorations and to equip them to understand when something works well in contrast to when it works less efficiently. Furthermore, I endeavor to assist in the development of attainable targets as students continue to advance their understanding and execution of concepts. Ultimately, my goal is for students to become self-sufficient at assessing what is happening within their entire instrument and for them to be able to make independent and informed decisions about their singing when they have completed their education. I foster this self-sufficiency by asking pointed questions about how students are experiencing their own singing. The pivotal point in this process is establishing the comparison between what “is” known and what “was” known. I see it as my responsibility to set up this moment for students in each lesson—and perhaps multiple times in the lesson. I find myself constantly helping students to redefine what is normal into what is their “new normal.”

 

It is my consistent hope and dream that students leave my studio/classroom reinvigorated in their learning after each lesson. I seek to develop an educational culture where fully autonomous musicians are able to draw upon prior knowledge and experiences in order to make applications to future musical endeavors. Additionally, I wish to equip students with the tools necessary to ask and research their own questions about singing providing them with limitless musical potential. One who has accomplished these tasks with each of their students is truly worthy of the title of “Master Teacher.”

©2020 - Daren Small