I firmly believe music to be as much a craft as it is an art. As a craftsman, I have had to acquire the tools of my trade to become a successful composer. Music theory provides an understanding of the mechanics of melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and tone quality. This understanding is clearly helpful in composing a new work, but it is equally crucial for tuning a brass section, or getting a choir to shape a phrase in unison, or helping a saxophonist decide what notes to play next in her jazz improvisation. And that is what I have devoted my life to: helping others to discover how music is put together.
My teaching covers the areas of music theory and composition. My theory courses, which involve the classification and analysis of written and aural musical elements, follow an inquiry-based model: encounter new phenomena through the literature, develop relevant questions, seek new information as needed, and apply that understanding to new contexts through higher-order projects and writing exercises. Rather than merely flipping the location of lectures to outside of class, this explore-explain-apply model reconceives the role of lecture as filling in gaps in understanding. Composition lessons are the culmination of the theory sequence; armed with theory skills and concepts, composition majors surpass musical identification and analysis, synthesizing and developing fragments into creative and coherent original compositions.