Teaching Philosophy

“The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers.”

– Roy Ayers, musician and composer

“I think one of the great things about being a musician is that you never stop learning.”

--Yo-Yo Ma, musician

I teach music because I believe it is truly the universal language – it connects people across cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. Connecting with audiences through music brings me joy. Connecting with students through teaching music also brings me joy! As a musician, that joy comes from the thrill of playing a great piece of music with other musicians or listening to great musicians perform in concert. As a teacher, that joy comes from the “aha!” moment when a student nails a difficult passage or when vibrato becomes second nature to her – or hearing from former students who are still playing their flutes and still experiencing the joy that music brings to their lives. 

 

As a musician and flute teacher, I want my students to experience the joy of playing an instrument. My goal is to give my students the best possible learning experience and to have fun doing it. Throughout our lessons, I play my flute along with my students. We end each lesson with a duet, sometimes a “serious” duet from flute literature, but often a duet arrangement of a Broadway or Disney song. To make it even more fun, we mix it up with other flutes – alto, bass, and piccolo. Music should be fun – playing the flute should be something the student enjoys, and lessons should be something the student looks forward to!

A flute lesson is not a one-way street; learning flows both ways. What I bring to lessons as a teacher is a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience as a professional musician, coach, clinician, and adjudicator. What my students bring to their lessons is an open mind and a desire to become the best musicians they can be. They bring questions and often, answers! The insight I gain from my students makes me a better teacher. One student taught himself to beatbox on the flute. He contacted beatbox flutist Greg Pattillo of Project Trio for tips on how to get started. Pattillo generously sent my student his “beatbox instruction sheet,” which the student shared with me. I’m still trying to get the hang of it. The best lessons are when we both learn something new! 

“Good morning. Put some music in someone else’s life today. Make the world a mixtape and see what it gives you in return.”

– Lin-Manuel Miranda, performer and composer-lyricist of “Hamilton.”

I tailor lessons to each student's skill level, needs, and goals -- always focusing on reinforcing the basics of musicianship. I encourage my students to audition for honor bands, youth symphonies, and other collaborative groups. Going through the audition process helps to build the student’s confidence and poise – skills that transfer to college entrance exams and job interviews. I also encourage my students to prepare solos and small ensembles for performance – to experience the gratification and joy that comes from mastering a piece of music. Above all, I encourage my students to try something new, to follow their musical interest and see where it leads. 

“. . . Give your time, give your heart, give your talent. Give someone something new. It feels incredible.”

-- Lin-Manuel Miranda

No matter what your goals are, you can find a home in my studio. Let’s explore music together and discover the joy in flute-playing. When we connect through music . . . it feels incredible!

Olathe, Kansas

© Emily Smith, 2019 -- All Rights Reserved