Teaching

Teaching has always been an integral part of my life as a musician, whether in the classroom, directing ensembles or in private lessons. I have had the opportunity to teach in some truly fantastic places.

For the past 15 years I have worked at Friends Music Camp (FMC), a Quaker music camp in Barnesville OH, where I currently direct a large 80-person choir, co-direct the jazz band, and teach private lessons. The fantastic community of musicians that comes together once a year on this remote, rural campus is quite amazing. I have programmed a diverse and exciting repertoire of choral music each summer, from Haydn masses to madrigals to sacred-harp tunes to my transcriptions of Bulgarian folk pieces in odd meters. I compose a new piece for the choir each year based on a different character from the Old-Testament.

This is my 2011 piece “Elijah”:

And this is my 2010 “Methusala”:

I co-direct the Jazz Band at FMC along with the fabulous Martha Hyde, a former teacher of mine. Membership in the jazz band is open to all instruments, regardless of whether or not they are “traditional” jazz band instruments. We are able to accommodate these unusual instrumentations because Martha and I compose and arrange all of the music for the bands each year.

I ran the Jazz program at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia for 5 years. There I directed three different jazz ensembles in the middle and upper schools. GFS is a fantastic school with a top-notch music faculty who were a blast to work with. These ensembles had non-traditional instrumentations as well which I arranged for quite deftly, if I do say so myself.

Prior to my GFS job I taught full-time at Friends Select School in downtown Philadelphia for 4 years. There I directed the upper school choir, middle school orchestra, upper school instrumental ensemble, and taught general music, theory and history classes in both middle and upper school. When I arrived at Friends Select there was no existing instrumental program in the upper school and just a fledgling string quartet in the middle school. By the time I left we had a 30 kid middle school orchestra, a large upper school ensemble, chamber groups, jazz groups, etc. This job also involved a great deal of composing and arranging. The composing extended to my general music classes where I amassed a large collection of sight-singing pieces that I have finally gotten around to compiling into a book, “New Cheese”.

photo by Jen Kertis

I have taught private piano lessons for the last 15 years of my life. Because I am well versed in both the European “classical” tradition and the jazz world I have worked with students of a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. I have a keen ability to solve technical problems at the piano and to coach students through the specific physical choreography of passages. This comes from my 13 years of study with Bob Durso, a real master of the craft and a practitioner of the Taubman Approach to Coordinate Technique.  I am a certified teacher of the Taubman Approach.