This I Believe

Elizabeth - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on August 13, 2008
Age Group: 65+

Teaching has been at the center of my life since I joined the Shenandoah Conservatory faculty in 1962. During these years I have learned much about myself, about music and, most of all, the importance of having respect for every individual who enters my studio, no matter how great or modest their capacities may seem. My students themselves have taught me more than I could ever imagine. To each of them I am deeply grateful.

For me teaching is a process of enabling another person to make discoveries of:

1) her/his own vast physical, emotional, intellectual and creative capacities;

2) the infinite scope, depth and variety of the many “dialects” within the language of music;

3) the integral relationships of the art and science of music with the larger world as reflected in literature, graphic arts, history, science, philosophy, psychology, physiology, politics, ethics, religion, spirituality.

My objectives as a teacher are:

1) opening students’ minds to the wonder and infinite possibilities of musical expression and to their own capacities for experiencing and revealing that wonder;

2) helping students to cultivate the knowledge and artistic sensibilities to make their own musical discoveries and decisions as performers;

3) helping students to develop the courage to maintain an inquiring attitude as they continue to grow and mature throughout their lives;

4) encouraging students to hear and appreciate the work (live and recorded) of the greatest music makers (performers and composers) of many genres, past and present.

5) fostering respect for the process of learning and respect for all those who share the path, wherever they may be along that path

6) encouraging students to cultivate appropriate attitudes, knowledge and concepts to become effective teachers and mentors.

Specific aspects addressed include: posture and body alignment; mental, physical, emotional coordination; appreciation and respect for the mind/body continuum; awareness of the mechanical and acoustical properties of the piano; social, political, cultural contexts surrounding the history of music and of the piano; literacy in the many languages of music.

Permeating this entire process is the ongoing development of a deepening understanding of the music itself (the unquantifiable, ineffable aspects of musical sound, vitality, beauty and expressiveness), empowering the students to listen, experience and “connect” with music at a depth beyond the reach of words.

Teaching and performing are challenging intellectual, spiritual and creative endeavors. Through the continuing study and performance of music one can become more centered intellectually, physically and emotionally.

As a musician/teacher my own performance activities are essential to expanding my musical insights and skills, and for enabling my students to hear, observe and experience the concepts, sensibilities and disciplines which are such an integral part of their learning process.

My own personal and professional development have been and continue to be shaped by the infinity of positive influences that surround me, providing daily challenges and inspiration.

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Two favorite quotes:

“No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakens into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted for the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith.” Albert Schweitzer

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“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats

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