Teaching has always surrounded my life. My dad has been a teacher since the mid-1980’s and when I was in high school I had the distinct pleasure of having him for sophomore history. From that class and others I learned at an early age that effective teaching is really about the transmission of cultural knowledge and heritage, and through performance and teaching that is precisely what I wish to do through music.
What I have learned from so many great teachers is how teaching goes beyond what would be considered a “job” or a “profession” but is actually a way of life. Almost to a person, the teachers I’ve had throughout my academic and musical careers have had this attitude, and in conversations with the “greats” whom I have not studied under but have had an opportunity to meet this approach to pedagogy literally radiates from them. One such individual who I had the honor to meet and converse with is Emanuel Ax. At a reception held for him at Mark and Katherine Love’s Charlotte Steinway Gallery, even my brief interaction with him was sufficient to elevate to the next level my understanding of what defines a teacher who has mastered their art. Passion, patience, humility and gentleness highlighted his many amazing qualities all of which I will seek to emulate in my own career.
With piano I have always thought of myself as a learner although I’ve always known that someday I wanted to teach. How this happened much sooner than expected came about through my dad’s company, Academic Initiatives Classical Academy (AICA). He asked me whether I would consider doing online lessons which would seem particularly useful given the current world situation. I enthusiastically embraced the idea, knowing though that first I would have to check with my own teacher to make sure that he felt that I was ready. I was so pleased when he gave the OK, noting that he felt that my fundamentals were solid enough to begin helping others. A new part of my journey as a musician has begun!
Due to COVID-19, however, Meadowmount will not be part of my musical summer, as for the first time in it’s history the school will not be offering its summer festival. Very sad but completely understandable and the wise choice. And so it is yet to see how the summer will play out musically (pun fully intended) with some possible chamber plans already being formulated at this writing. Most importantly though is that everyone remain healthy and not take unnecessary risks. Obviously, there will plenty of time it seems for teaching and continued studies, and hopefully Meadowmount will be back in play next year as we move past these difficult times.
I was asked recently whether, being 19 presently, I would 100 years from now rather be remembered as a performer or a teacher. Predictably my answer is “both” and I will work very diligently to create that legacy. In my vision of that legacy, students of students of students who may never know my name or that I even existed will benefit from my 2 hours of scale work today. The ancient proverb that guides my life goes something like this: The wisest and kindest of souls are the ones who water trees knowing that they will never sit under their shade. That’s me, or at least who and what I aspire to become.
To sign up for my virtual piano lessons please go to: https://academicinitiatives.org/services/