I have always believed that the primary goal of any music educator should be to help create a society of passionate lovers of music. Whether the student is a novice instrumentalist or singer, a non-major taking a music survey class as part of a required curriculum, an adult enrolled in a continuing education course, or someone preparing for a career in music, the goal remains the same—to provide students with a vision of excellence that will inspire and allow them to make rationally based value judgments on the merits of any musical work.
During my career, I have found that the most productive way to accomplish this goal is to create a structured environment with a variety of stimuli—audio and visual examples using new technologies; live performances involving the teacher and guest artists; and by engaging individuals with music of diverse styles. By emphasizing the elements of music and showing how they function within musical works, it is then possible to build a foundation upon which to listen, explore and evaluate musical compositions.
For those students preparing to enter the music industry, I believe it is also the music educator’s responsibility to help ease the transition from college student to working professional. The music industry of today is downsizing and highly competitive and therefore more difficult in which to establish a career. For those students who demonstrate the passion, talent and necessary level of accomplishment, the teacher must be able to act as a conduit into the professional world. This implies that the educator must be active as a performer, clinician, and researcher in order to remain in contact with the changing nature of the music industry. Furthermore, the acts of performance and research must constantly reinforce one another in order to develop a pedagogy that is relevant and transforming.
Finally, it is the music educators obligation to stress the importance of collegiality and the “we” concept to students. Quality music making can only occur when each individual is willing to sublimate his or her musical ego for the benefit of the ensemble’s performance. This must be continually emphasized.
As a result of my years of teaching, I have discovered more about my discipline and enjoyed the chance to share my passion for music with many students, faculty, and community members. I look forward to all opportunities that will allow me to continue on that path.