Pedagogical Background and Philosophy
With a lifelong fascination with the learning process and over 24 years of teaching experience, I have taught hundreds of students at all ages and all levels of ability. This experience has enabled me to develop a highly successful method for training exceptional violin students. My pedagogical approach, while continually evolving, is strongly influenced by the traditions of Ivan Galamian, Carl Flesch, Dorothy DeLay, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Simon Fischer, Paul Rolland, and Shinichi Suzuki.
My students have been accepted at prestigious universities and conservatories, and include prizewinners of international competitions, soloists, chamber musicians, and members of professional orchestras throughout the world.
I was appointed to a faculty teaching position at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1997. Shortly thereafter, I founded and directed New Zealand’s first university-based pre-college strings program, the Marama Strings Project. Running from 1998-2007, the project offered a comprehensive program for talented young string players, earning an international reputation for its success in training young soloists and teachers of the next generation.
From 2003-2010 I founded and directed New Zealand’s Queenstown Violin Summer School. The annual Summer School provided a unique study opportunity solely focused on solo performance for advanced violin students from elementary school age through college level. The School provided an environment for students to work intensively with resident international professional musicians. In addition to providing advanced music tuition, the School helped students understand that motivation, focus, and strength of character were values as crucial to musical success as talent.
I currently hold faculty teaching positions at the University of Portland and Pacific University, Portland, Oregon, USA. I maintain a thriving private studio, an international studio via online video lessons, supporting students throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia, and frequently travel overseas for performances, masterclasses and teaching residencies.
I provide aspiring young musicians with the highest caliber of artistic education in a challenging and supportive environment. My students are dedicated and willing to work hard. The individuality of each student, their love of music, and the understanding and support from parents are central to the teaching process.
My role as teacher is to guide students to becoming inquisitive, independent, and self-aware learners. I strive to provide a sound technical, musical, and intellectual education for my students. Guided by a set of philosophical principles, every aspect of my teaching method can be related to the training of self-confidence.
Each student has different technical, musical, and psychological needs. I establish an individualized program of study designed to nurture enthusiasm towards learning, good practice habits, musical and technical advancement, and most importantly, confidence in their own abilities that reaches far beyond their instrumental work.
My students develop technical proficiency through a highly structured sequential methodology. A significant portion of each lesson, and daily practice, is dedicated to technical work (Basics). As well as helping students to warm up mentally and physically, the basics routine is a time for them to pay attention to and improve individual technical skills.
Regular practice is the key to progress, and a daily commitment from the student is essential. Daily practice time varies from student to student and by ability and age. My students learn to structure their practice time with the use of individual practice logs, incorporating technical work, studies, and repertoire.
We learn most effectively when we are confident in our abilities and are motivated by our own desires. A student’s desire to perform emerges from having frequent performance experiences. My full-time students perform in regular performance classes and studio recitals. Performance classes are an opportunity for students to share their music with each other and to build camaraderie within the studio.
Learning how to Learn
Using the violin as a medium through which to learn, my students experience how to imagine, create, and shape sound. Learning to play a musical instrument requires developing highly refined skills of intellectual reasoning, mental focus, and both physical and emotional control. Through guided instruction and mindful self-observation, I work to develop a student’s conscious awareness of the process of learning. “Learning how to learn” becomes an extremely important and highly transferrable skill in itself.