STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
As an effective music educator, I believe that a comprehensive music education should embody a combination of various music ideologies in order to educate students. The teaching of musicality and subsequent interpretations of music should be consistent with the cognitive understandings of composition, form, theory, history, and pedagogy. In this regard, a referential expressionist approach is most warranted in the cultivation of comprehensive musicianship. Via this mechanism, the student will be able to benefit from a true musical experience with positive life impact.
A comprehensive music education extends beyond knowledge of pitches and rhythms but entails the provision of aesthetic experiences, critical thinking, and ultimately, a more extensive understanding of self. Music serves as the perfect venue by which affective and aesthetic experiences can be developed. It is my presupposition that music facilitates the education of feelings through student response to the qualities of great music in rehearsal and performance—perhaps to a degree greater than any other subject.
In addition to performance preparation, a comprehensive music program invokes a student’s understanding in the areas of music reading, languages, and the historical, theoretical, and stylistic context of music. Technical excellence and the highest musical standards are indeed integral to a comprehensive music program; however, fostering student growth is paramount. Performance, then, does not become the culmination of the process but a stepping-stone along the path of which there is always room to learn, grow, and improve.
Grounded in referential expressionism, my objective is to be more than an effective rehearsal technician, proficient director, and music researcher. My ultimate responsibility is to facilitate self-directed student-centered learning via each individual’s creativity, research, and critical thinking capacity. My pedagogical practice encompasses a differentiated approach based on students’ individualized strengths, weaknesses, and learning modality. Upon conducting a diagnostic assessment, I immediately begin to tailor my instruction to accommodate each student’s respective level.
During my private studio teaching sessions, the one-on-one interaction enables me to provide opportunities for students to focus solely on his/her goals and assigned tasks for each lesson. Constant motivation and encouragement is given to all students to help build self-confidence as a musician. This one-on-one environment also minimizes distractions otherwise experienced while situated in a formal classroom setting.
In a formal classroom environment, my primary instructional goal is to sustain a student-centered learning environment where students can access learning to the best of their ability. Because each student brings a unique background and perspective into the classroom, it is crucial to promote intellectual diversity and critical thinking in all assessments. Additionally, when discussing impactful past or current historical events during lectures, I assume the role as a moderator as opposed to choosing a side. This, in turn, aides in maintaining a controlled classroom climate where each student is comfortable and willing to learn new information. As a result of my past academic training and professional experiences, I have been thoroughly equipped to thrive in a variety of diverse teaching environments.
Congruent to my private studio teaching, I note goals and assessments from the inception of our interaction, and I provide subsequent instruction to ensure that students have a sound comprehension of the content discussed. In my classroom setting, I strive for my classes to be innovative, engaging and insightful. Modern technology is implemented into my courses to stay abreast with current trends in music and education in general. The overarching goal of my classroom teaching is to ensure that students leave my course with a sense of understanding and musical fulfillment.
Joseph L. Jefferson, D.M.A.