Amber Walker, Flute

Amber Walker, Flute

Private Lesson Information

 

Lesson Structure and Expectations

Private lessons will be given on a weekly basis in durations of 30, 45, and 60 minutes. Lessons will focus on musical development through the study of scales, tone and technical exercises, etudes, and flute repertoire. Students are expected to supply their own materials and bring them to every lesson (flute, sheet music, pencil). Students are also welcome to bring additional musical material to their lessons (band music, region etudes, etc). Students are expected to develop and maintain healthy practice habits, and to demonstrate a proper level of preparation in each of their lessons. The recommended minimum amount of daily practice should correspond to the number of minutes in the student’s weekly lesson.

 

Lesson Rates and Payment Policy

Payment may be provided in monthly installments or on an individual lesson basis. Payment is due before the start of each lesson, or at the first lesson to take place each month. Lesson fees are as follows:

 

30 minutes    $20 per lesson

45 minutes    $30 per lesson

60 minutes    $40 per lesson

 

 

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy begins and ends with the student—teaching not only the musician, but the individual person as a whole. My primary goal is to promote and nurture a genuine joy and passion for music as both an art and a profession. In so doing, I seek to aid each of my students in reaching their full potential and accomplishing their own personal goals.

I believe that it is vital to see your students as people first and musicians second. The relationship between personal and musical growth is symbiotic—the latter cannot occur without acknowledgment of the former. Each student is an individual with his/her own set of goals, strengths, and insecurities. You must teach each student according to their goals and specific program of study, helping them to be aware of their talents and to improve upon areas in which confidence may be lacking. I have high expectations for my students, but only in so much as I want them to have high expectations for themselves. While I believe that it is important to set high standards, I also believe in taking into account the stage of musical development of each individual in determining what these standards should be. What may be a minor success for one student may be a tremendous accomplishment for another. Ultimately, it is my goal that each of my students adopt a strong sense of self-motivation and positive work ethic. I firmly believe that my success as an educator is ultimately dependent upon my ability to teach my students how to teach themselves.

The above values and ideals translate directly into my pedagogical approaches as a flute teacher. First and foremost, I establish the studio as a completely safe-space. While students will receive constructive criticism during their lessons, it is never my aim to deliver this criticism in a manner that produces anxiety or leads students to feel as though they are being judged. I emphasize with my students the importance of allowing themselves permission to make mistakes—mistakes are a natural and essential aspect of the learning process. Learning new concepts does not happen instantaneously; it is in concerted effort through many failed attempts that we gradually acquire the skills to play correctly.

An important step toward helping students to be more independent learners is to encourage them to possess a high state of awareness and to constantly analyze their own playing. In practicing and learning new skills, students should constantly be aware of the following: 1) How does this sound? 2) How does this feel? 3) What does this look like?  It is vital for students to exercise critical thinking skills during their lessons. I ask questions that require them to think about their playing, personally identify problems and the corresponding solutions, and work to help guide them through the process of learning rather than immediately providing them with the answer. I often demonstrate both the correct and incorrect versions of a musical passage or technique, and ask students to identify the differences between the two. Additionally, once an error has been identified, I make sure to guide the student through practice strategies that can be used to correct the error or work to build a new skill. For example, if their tone sounds pinched, I ask them to identify how their mouth feels as they play, and to use a mirror to identify how their mouth looks (ex. What are the corners of your lips doing? Is there space inside your mouth? Where is your tongue?) Once they have identified the source of the problem, I provide them with strategies that will help them to correct it. After they have experimented with these strategies, I ask them to identify the differences in not only the way they sound, but how it physically looks and feels to execute the technique now as opposed to the way it felt before making the alteration. Additionally, I make sure to aurally demonstrate and verbally explain these concepts.

One of the most essential parts of music education is helping students to develop healthy practice habits and strategies, and to emphasize the importance of flute fundamentals. I encourage students to structure their practice sessions in the following order: 1) tone 2) technique 3) repertoire. I believe that the foundation for successful flute playing is the ability to play with good tone quality. I provide students with various methods for developing tone, such as long tone exercises and tone etudes. These exercises help students to work on embouchure concepts, breath control, and abdominal support in an isolated and specific manner. In order to encourage students to work toward the development of their tone, I explain to them that playing with good tone quality will help them to more easily execute technique, to play in tune, and to play with a greater sense of musical expression. Under the area of technique, I emphasize the importance of scale knowledge, technical exercise, and etudes, and the fact that increasing their technical capabilities will help them to more quickly and effectively learn repertoire. In order to further emphasize the last of these concepts, I encourage students to identify scale and chord patterns as they appear in repertoire.   

One of the most vital reasons behind the importance of acknowledging each student as an individual is the ability of an educator to take this knowledge and use it to tailor the way in which we teach. I strive to be sensitive to the unique personality types of each of my students and to use this information to determine the most effective mode by which to teach them. Awareness of these personality differences can help one to better cater to the unique attributes possessed by each student, and to determine how to most effectively motivate them toward success.  It is also important to determine the learning type/types under which each of your students fall. While I believe that all lessons should be taught through a combination of verbal instruction and musical demonstration, the exact ratio of these elements will naturally vary depending on the learning preferences of the individual student. Those who are strong aural learners may respond most immediately to musical demonstrations, while those who are more verbal or mathematic/analytical may prefer a spoken explanation.

One of the most important considerations that I take into account as an educator are the personal goals of each of my students. This is the first step towards understanding your students as people, and in turn, helping them on their way to becoming successful musicians. It is essential to discuss these goals with each of your students on a regular basis, as well as to help them to generate goals for themselves. It is also important to help students to be aware the fact that there are different types of goals, and to make sure that they set separate goals for themselves that correspond to each of these categories. Doing so will help them to focus not only on the extrinsic rewards that can be attained through successful performances, but also on the intrinsic rewards of the learning process and performance experience. I encourage students to set three main types of goals for themselves: performance goals, learning goals, and experience goals. Performance goals deal with the specific musical execution of a piece, as well as with the desired extrinsic outcomes of a performance (winning a competition, placement in a higher ensemble, etc). Learning goals relate specifically to a student’s overall desired musical improvements (i.e. developing the ability to double tongue, playing with a fuller tone in the low register, etc). Once a student has determined their performance goals, it is essential to help them to identify and work toward the accomplishment of the corresponding learning goals. The third goal type—experience goals—relates directly to fostering a joy for music as an art-form, as well as working to encourage a healthy and positive performance mindset. Experience goals deal specifically with the way in which we feel while we are practicing or performing. This includes our physical experience, as well as the way in which we feel about the music we are playing and the emotions it may prompt us to possess and convey. While experience goals are the ones that are often the easiest to neglect, it is these types of goals that are most essential to both our confidence and ability to enjoy music performance. Focus on experience goals is also the first step toward tackling the performance anxiety issues that all students will encounter to some extent. The development of these goals will help students to focus on their relationship with the music rather than the judgments that they fear may be passed upon them during a performance. These types of goals also help students to possess a heightened state of awareness while they are playing, which can help them in directing negative energy elsewhere. Rather than focusing on an inner monologue of criticisms or their shaking hands, they can begin to remove their focus from these distractions and onto the music.

As a teacher, my greatest joy is in witnessing the success of my students. In helping my students to develop a heightened sense of both musical and personal awareness, I hope to foster the development of independent and confident musicians and human beings. 

Flute Studio Policies and Lesson Rates