My Teaching Philosophy

I first learned to play the clarinet in 1972, after hearing a demonstration of various instruments, whereby I chose the clarinet because it "went the highest and the lowest" of them all.

The more I learn about playing music, the more I love teaching. At age 17 I was proficient enough in clarinet technique to instruct younger students. Through the experience of mentoring beginning players, I discovered that the process of deconstructing the mechanics of playing the instrument enables the teacher to better instruct himself. The enlightening experience of imparting knowledge to others has motivated me to continue teaching the skills of making music on the clarinet to this day.

Each new student shows me what they need. Since 1989, after moving to Columbus, Ohio as the Principal Clarinetist with the Columbus Symphony, I have had numerous students graduate from my studio and go on to study clarinet at the university level, including notably, Indiana University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. I also coach university level students and adult professionals, helping them prepare for orchestral auditions or other performance events as needed.

I have no preference for any particular age group when I teach. All ages are a joy to teach, each with their own unique breakthroughs in learning to learn and to express themselves from the core of their being.

Better understanding of how we live inspires better teaching. Beginning in 2003, my teaching philosophy has included some critical concepts of physical awareness which I learned from the Alexander Technique, with great success for my students. The Alexander Technique emphasizes balance and poise in the use of the whole self, including proper body coordination, mental and physical attitude, and physical and mental focus. The Technique enables me to analyze the student's use of his or her self, allowing me to craft a style of teaching tailored to each student's needs. Rather than merely "getting to the goal" of playing all the exercises in a particular book, which often comes with many negative compensating habits, I teach the most efficient and natural way for a student to learn to play the instrument, and by extension, learn to live better day to day.

The ultimate goal of any teaching method is to impart to each student a greater awareness of the complexity and beauty of playing music through their chosen instrument.

I teach from my home in Columbus, Ohio.

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4 comments for “My Teaching Philosophy

  1. October 13, 2009 at

    Thanks for your comment Steve. Glad you enjoy a good relationship with your teacher. I like your phrase "creative living". Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. October 12, 2009 at

    I have been playing clarinet as an adult for recreation and love of creative living since the late 90s, after a 25 year gap from my high school playing days. My relationship with my teacher is essential. Thanks for your informative blog.

    Steve Broe

  3. December 17, 2008 at

    @Sue Benson: Sue- Thanks for your comment. Where did you study Alexander, and with whom? I’m always looking for connections to new teacher with fresh views. Where do you play now?

  4. Sue Benson
    December 17, 2008 at

    I agree totally with David about the value of the Alexander Technique for musicians and am amazed that so many musicians have not explored it – although many have. For me, it made a HUGE difference in violin playing – I doubt I’d still be playing professionally without it due to the pain I was in due to poor body positioning.

    They have a wonderful website at http://alexandertechnique for anyone who wants to learn more.

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