Teaching Philosophy

It’s a conversation.

Imagine you’re in a big room at a large social gathering. You’re talking with other professional musicians, exploring aesthetics, the mechanisms of survival, and all else related to the field. There are real people in the room, and there are also spirits from the past. Pauline Oliveros comes up in the conversation, as does John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Beethoven, Stravinksy, Led Zeppelin, Max Roach, Hildegard, Machaut, and so many others.

After some time, you tell your friends you want to introduce them to someone new. You leave the room, and return with a young musician. This is one of your students. You spent the last four years preparing them for this conversation. They can keep up. They can talk aesthetics, they have their own creative projects brewing, they have their own relationship with the great masters of the past. They are ready for the conversation.
Once you bring them in and make introductions, you step back and you give them the space and the support they need to speak. And you enjoy watching them not only become part of the conversation, but begin to shape how the conversation develops. You see them developing new friends and you see new relationships blossoming. And thus the conversation is deepened, expanded, and enriched.

Sometime later there’s another social gathering. This time you’re not introducing the person you brought in last time, but standing next to them sharing your recent experiences with the other guests in the room. After a while your former student says, “Hey everyone, I want to introduce you to someone I’ve been working with.”

And the conversation continues.

One thought on “Teaching Philosophy

  1. Indeed great food for thought Payton.
    Teaching/mentoring can be almost like the role of parenting. Foster the growth, then get out of their way, and before you know it they’re colleagues and it’s shop-talk between ‘equals’. Best cases for me are when former students have shown me things I’ve not explored. Then I get to steal ideas and inspiration from THEM.

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