With every academic term of my performance degrees from the University of Michigan, I also took multiple courses beyond the required credits. Progressing levels in music composition, jazz studies, visual arts, or the literary arts comprised most of those courses. These extra pursuits took place alongside the high-proficiency training demanded by my performance curriculum.
While absorbing those extracurriculars over the course of three degrees in Violin Performance, I developed artistic goals unique from many of my colleagues. Those forty-something extracurricular credits in music and the arts granted me development far beyond music alone. My exposure to history, geography, literature, and languages via the arts spanned our whole planet, letting me see and experience their direct relevancy to the violin.
I believe a human is more than their words and the words of others. Concordantly, I define an artist as one who facilitates communication beyond our words. My full immersion over the decade of extracurriculars in the arts encouraged more than the building a violinist, but of an artist. Today, I am frequently asked to provide musical performance with lecture in a genre called “informance”— a portmanteau for “informative performance”. Doing these, I simultaneously bridge genres and enable understanding, and provide platforms for artistic development. I believe strongly in teaching the musician's potential as more than just an entertainer, and I believe in showing that example.
I served as Concertmaster of the "2016 Binational Concert Without Borders" at the Mexico border, where half of the full symphony performed split down the middle by the Douglas-Agua Prieta border wall. Half the orchestra peered through the wall to see our conductor. This Univision-televised event symbolized music continuing to bridge and unite humankind with the communicative propensities of our arts.
My goal strives beyond performance and informance alone, though. My passion has always been to do what all of my inspiring teachers had done for me. I want to be a foundation for today’s aspiring violin talents to become the dynamic, far-reaching, culture-penetrating artists of tomorrow.
When asked in a televised interview by PBS to "describe the best teacher in three words" I replied, “still a student.” I stand by this absolutely. My teachers all led by example, allowing students to see their process in real time. I observed that they never stopped learning, and remained humble enough to learn from anyone, anywhere. To quote cellist Yo-Yo Ma as he learned jazz in a live workshop with Wynton Marsalis, "Don't be too proud." My best and most-fulfilling years of performance, informance, and composition are still ahead of me.
I witnessed all of my teacher's insatiable persistence to improve, and adopted the uncompromising integrity they maintained in the professional world. This model of mentorship formed my pedagogical motto, and is the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy— “teach by example.”