18 November 2010

Teaching Docket

This month and next, I am and will be teaching more than I ever have before for any significant stretch of time. But what's more remarkable, to me at least, about the present slate is its diversity. It had been a couple of years since a trombone student had signed up to study with me, but I've picked up 3 of them since the beginning of the month; my Jazz History and Listening Class at the West Bank School of Music has populated for only the second time since we began offering it; our director at WBSM wrote and received a sizable grant earlier this year to allow us to offer a series of 5-week workshops, and Milo Fine and I are leading one on Improvised Music; and two of my longer-term tuba students are auditioning to be music majors next year, the first two from my studio to have the inclination.

Rather than bogging me down, all of this sudden activity has me enjoying teaching like never before. It's rare that I've been able to be active as an educator in all of the areas in which I'm active as a performer and composer, and not surprisingly, as with those other endeavors, I'm much happier that way. It's also, of course, easier on the wallet to be teaching more. Much ink has been spilled lamenting cases where musicians were forced to teach to make a living, but I've never felt that way myself; I see at least a minimal amount of teaching as an obligation to feed the other side of the pipeline, and have a genuine desire to share what I've learned with students.

If anything, I find it unfortunate that I derive most of my income from teaching not because it gets in the way of my other pursuits, but because I'd rather not have to charge for it. In a perfect world, I would teach a handful of students, free of charge, and with high expectations (both achievement and attendance) that would have to be met in order to continue the relationship. I would just as soon teach raw beginners as aspiring pros assuming they show up every week and put the time in to make steady progress. Until that day, though, what I'm doing now through the end of the year is just about the next best thing. Variety is the spice of life.

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