Teaching at the Texas Christian University (TCU) School of Music
I joined the TCU faculty in 2003 to develop and oversee the cello program at the School of Music. TCU enjoys a robust and diverse studio of cellists from the US and abroad pursuing undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as the artist diploma. To create an environment conducive of understanding the various facets of the world of cello, I developed courses in cello pedagogy, cello orchestra excerpts, created the TCU Cello Ensemble, and founded the TCU Cellofest. TCU cello students also benefit from practical experience opportunities, including performances in studio classes, master-classes, and thematic studio recitals featuring complete sets such as the Paganini Caprices, the Duport and Popper Etudes, and the Gubaidulina Preludes. At TCU, cellists may further participate in chamber music, new music ensembles, Collegium Musicum - the School's early music ensemble, and in the award-winning TCU Symphony Orchestra.
During 11 years the annual Faculty & Friends Chamber Music Series (which I founded and led as artistic director) featured distinguished guests collaborating with faculty and students. I was honored with the Deans' Research and Creativity Award in 2008 and with the College of Fine Arts Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar in 2012.
From 2016 through 2019, the cello program made incredible advances thanks to the contributions of my colleague Jen Humphreys of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra who presently teaches the orchestra excerpts class and some artist diploma private lessons.
I can proudly speak of the professional success of former TCU cello students gaining admission in the most select graduate programs and summer festivals, garnering awards in national and international competitions, and securing full-time employment teaching in K-12, higher education, and in professional orchestras.
The charge of teaching another person is a privilege and responsibility that requires respect and careful consideration throughout the entire process. My basic premise is:
Understand the student's background, personal and career objectives, strengths and needs;
Propose a process and strategy to foster tangible growth;
Prepare the student to understand and operate within professional and ethical standards, accounting for the student's goals and program of study;
As an advisor and mentor, strive to graduate students with the skills to enjoy a life with music and flourish in their chosen field; and,
Lead my students to become engaged and highly adaptable artists in their world so that they may be creative and productive now and into the future.
Listening to the student in tones or in words, I try my best to tune into the particularities of their experience and identify ways to foster their human and musical development. Whether delving into a particular technical challenge, or into the historical and esthetic characteristics of a musical work, the process of learning together guides and inspires my teaching. It is therefore my goal to develop a deeper and fresh understanding of the music and propose techniques that will enable communicating this new truth to the audience. I strive to offer approaches to productive practice time that truly prepares towards a rewarding performance. Above all, it is my purpose to guide the student to reveal and appreciate the beauty and relevance of their own artistic voice.
TCU Cello Ensemble
The TCU Cello Ensemble is an ensemble dedicated to the study, performance, and advocacy of music for cello ensemble. The objective is to develop the student’s awareness, understanding and enjoyment of cello playing. The TCU Cello Ensemble is an enrichment of learning experience in the cello studio. The ensemble draws from solo, chamber music and orchestra performance techniques through work on intonation, coordination and balance between voices, communication, projection, and understanding of the work at hand, in settings with and without conductor.
Since its inception in 2005, the TCU Cello Ensemble has developed a wide repertoire in a variety of styles and settings — with music ranging from Albinoni, Bach and Verdi to Samuel Barber, Dave Brubeck, Scott Joplin, Enrico Mainardi and Villa-Lobos. The ensemble also plays music with soloist(s) by Popper, Dvořák, Samuel Zyman and Vivaldi.
Expanding the repertoire is an important part of the advocacy for this medium. The ensemble presented Tan Dun’s Secret Land and Marlos Nobre’s Canto a Garcia Lorca (U.S. premiere performance), as well as music especially written for the ensemble by Martin Blessinger (Waltz), Blaise Ferrandino (Symphony for Cellos), Robert Garwell (Anxieties of the Heart and Broken Solitude) and Till Meyn (Urban Ragas).
Members get valuable performance experience in concerts on and off campus. The ensemble most recently performed music by Morton Gould, Till Meyn, Villa-Lobos, and gave the premiere of Haley Woodrow’s Restoration, dedicated to the ensemble.
As founding artistic director of the TCU Cellofest, I have the privilege of convening colleagues, students, cello ensembles from near and far corners of the world to renew and make friendships while advancing the cello and its music. Since 2007, the Cellofest has presented concerts, master-classes, premiere performances, a concerto competition, a festival cello ensemble featuring students alongside artists-teachers, and much more. The next TCU Cellofest is scheduled for October of 2020.