Teaching is a passion for me. As an in-demand guest clinician and adjunct professor at NYU and Bard Conservatory, teaching is a cornerstone of my commitment to being a well-rounded and continually improving musician. I work to ensure students have access to complementary and comprehensive training with this integrated three-part structure:
Artful Timpani Auditioning
(NYU, New York City)
NYU Master’s Timpani Focus (NYC)
I founded the “Deliberate Practice Bootcamp & Northland Timpani Summit” as a seminar open to all instrumentalists, with dedicated sessions for timpanists, designed to improve practice process and audition preparation. I then developed “Artful Timpani Auditioning” as a seminar built around a multi-day mock audition, applying those auditioning skills, with adjudication by members of the MET Orchestra. Finally, I formulated a master’s curriculum with deliberate practice concepts as the foundation. In short: I’m eager to educate and pass on what I have learned.
“What I’ve learned” has been unique given my unorthodox path to the MET Orchestra. I was appointed principal timpanist in 2013; prior to that, I worked for 10 years as a senior scientist at a nanotechnology company in Chicago. I double-majored in physics and music as an undergraduate, and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. I did not attend a conservatory, nor do I hold a graduate degree in music. But for me, that’s actually been an asset — I feel that I’ve gained unique insight into the mutually-reinforcing realms of science and music, particularly in terms of how to engineer an audition process and what it really means to practice.
I crafted my own “D. I.Y. master’s” by investigating and implementing “deliberate practice” — a term derived from Anders Ericsson’s research notably documented in the highly-influential book Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin. I personally subscribe to its founding assumption: if there even is such a thing as “natural talent,” it becomes essentially irrelevant over the time frame it takes to achieve mastery. The far more dominant factors are both how much you practice, but more importantly the quality of that practice. Therefore, the question I want students to ask themselves is not “am I good enough right now?” but rather “am I willing to do the work?” The focus and intensity of that work determines your trajectory, and that is by far the most important thing.
I then encourage students to employ the attributes of deliberate practice, prominently including “feedback loops” achieved through self-recording, extensive analysis, and playing mock auditions for others who don’t play your instrument. I’m a big believer in “deliberate lessons,” and I coach students on how to structure their practice for maximum efficiency and efficacy. I want to help students become their own best teachers, and ultimately polished and thoughtful artists…all while keeping in mind what Brahms said: “without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” It’s not enough to just feel the music well; I want to provide students the best means for refining its craft.