Statement of Teaching Philosophy . . .
Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Pedagogical Approach
In today's music industry, I believe it is imperative to teach our students to become multi-faceted music entrepreneurs who are culturally adaptable; this is true for each discipline students learn under my pedagogy. Having lead 27 music education-mission trips in Latin America, Middle East, Europe, and Africa, my experience has instilled a deep-rooted understanding and passion for teaching and playing other cultures’ music as a method of transcending cultural differences by uniting people of all-walks-of-life together. This postulation is implemented within my pedagogy, as I aim to acquaint students with the potential power of music beyond the purposes of entertainment and self-satisfaction, rather, to use music in a manner that (1) ministers to and inspires people’s hearts and (2) positively influences people’s cultural sensitive and responsively. I have witnessed that cultivating interdisciplinary skills and cross-cultural perspectives among students result in the expansion of platform opportunities, students’ increased marketability for job placement and consumer acquisition, and overall enrichment in their musical lives. A graduate-level course I taught that infuses these two pedagogical approaches is Ethnodoxological Composition, Performance, and Production, a course that was designed to strengthen students’ creative music-making skills for producing original music reflective of five chosen culture’s way of expressing their worship.
My continuous involvement as an active professional in the music business has resulted in my unquenchable passion for teaching students to become interdisciplinary in their skill set, free in their creative expression, and intercultural in their mind set. Today’s ‘music business 2.0’ requires our students to become well-versed in the (a) processes of recording arts and sciences, composition, production, and improvisation; (b) applications of music business law & entrepreneurialism; (c) experiences of conveying their artistry as a crossover musician and communicator to audiences for performance and for marketing products/services. This is what I teach to students in the classroom. Whether it be a large class, an ensemble, an applied-lesson, advising a capstone project, or a small class, the consistency in my teaching is the aim of cultivating students to be interdisciplinary and culturally-responsive. In doing so, students can eventually garner opportunities to exercise leadership within the music business and utilize their platform to promote innovation and respect for others in our society.
The term intercultural is a way to describe my very essence. As a Puerto Rican, by default I am a cross between Nigerian, Taino Indian, Spaniard, and Middle Eastern cultures imbedded into one people group - and born in the U.S.A. I have a passion for teaching students intersections between musical expressions from various parts of the world and how that applies to their skill set, vocation, and life-mission.
Project-Based learning for Critical Thinking and Research Skills
One of my preferred teaching methods is helping students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge — project-based learning (hereinafter, PBL). A growing body of research supports the use of PBL, so much so, that schools where PBL is practiced find a decline in absenteeism, an increase in cooperative learning skills, and improvement in student achievement. When technology (e.g., music technology - digital audio workstations, iPads, and notation software) is used to promote critical thinking and communication (i.e., improvisation, composition, music production, and creative performance), these benefits are enhanced.
A unique way I aim to engage students through PBL is by advising empirical research projects in the field of music business and industry, which allows students to uncover facets of the music industry they otherwise would not have learned, especially through a text book. More recently, an advisee received two undergraduate awards for her mixed-methods research entitled “Lyrical Content Analysis and Students’ Perceptions of Female Pop Artists’ Influence Among Music Listener.” Her findings helped her uncover meta-thematic trends among Top 20 popular songs sung by female pop artists, as well as a statistically-significant correlation to how female pop artists’ lyrics affect male and female music listeners’ perceptions of self-identity, relationship roles, and gender roles. Another advisee successfully co-produced a song with me that transmitted research on ‘TechnoModeration’ into a rap song in hopes of persuading teenagers and young adults to unplug from smartphones and videos games. The educational rap song reached over one million media impressions in the southeastern region of the U.S.A. (i.e., newspapers). Other empirical research studies I have advised include (1) a music business senior project thesis entitled “The Teaching of Entrepreneurship in Applied-Lessons and (2) The Effects of Music Production Pedagogy on Students’ Self-Efficacy and Abilities for Improvisation. These testimonies are representative of my uniqueness as a professor who teaches music business/entrepreneurship, and production; I strive not only to help students understand relevant information pertaining to the music industry, but also desire for them to harness their full cognitive potential as scholars of the music industry, which may increase their marketability for various vocational opportunities that require prospective hirers to have this skill set.
Another example of PBL, for which I have commensurate experience in, is advising students’ EPs and Album projects. Over the course of my career, I have successfully lead 12 album recording projects for my students as part of their Senior Project for their degree program or Final Project for a class. During the processes of creating the album, each student has testified to having obtained deeper understanding for recording arts and sciences by co-exercising each role within the ideation and creation process (i.e., composer, arranger, producer, session musician, recording engineer, mixing/editing engineer, mastering engineer)) to the marketing process (i.e., album artwork, digital distribution, sync licensing, copyright, mechanical licensing, social media marketing, and so forth). Through working side-by-side with students, these recording projects have offered students relevant and bountiful experience, as well as, numerous accolades to follow their work: two GRAMMY® Nominations, an EMMY® Nomination, multiple DownBeat® Student Awards, and one Parents’® Choice GOLD award, Yamaha Young Performing Artist winner, and so forth. Hence, the combination of PBL, passionate mentorship in music business/entrepreneurship/production, and co-producing industry-standard recording productions eventually lead to many of my students landing desirable job positions within the music industry (e.g. audio engineering for TV station, touring musician, CEO of a non-profit organization, become signed to an artist-centered record label, obtaining endorsements, and so forth).
Student-Centered Learning and Imagery-Based Instruction
I have witnessed bountiful intellectual, academic, and professional successes with my students through two teaching philosophies: student-centered learning and imagery-based instruction. What I love about the student-centered learning approach is its aims to develop learner autonomy and independence by putting responsibility for the learning path in the hands of students. As a professor of music industry/production, my teaching is inline with student-centered instruction because I aim to cultivate multi-faceted skills and practices within students that, ultimately, will enable lifelong learning and independent problem-solving. This is necessary for students to thrive entrepreneurially in the industry of recording arts and music industry. From my teaching experience, the coupling of student-centered learning approach with imagery-based instruction (see my dissertation research) can produce positive outcomes for students’ self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and creative thinking for performing, improvising, and composing music. Imagery-based instruction (i.e., teaching with representational and resembling descriptors; icons, indexes, cognitive translating anecdotes) and practice are based on the constructivist learning theory that emphasizes the learner's critical role in constructing meaning from new information and prior experience. My ultimate goal for teaching with imagery-based instruction is (1) to help students fully understand the subject - ‘understanding’ operationally defined as the application of wisdom at the appropriate time - and, (2) to help students determine what they must do both musically and entrepreneurially at a level that is not simply recalling information from a text-book, rather, at a level in which they make choices that insinuate their life experiences, postulate their vision and goals, and support their intentions for creating their music and developing their brand. Through student-centered learning approach and imagery-based instruction, I know I am able to put my students’ interests first, acknowledging their voice as a central component to the learning experience. My research and teaching experience indicate that (a) pedagogical techniques foster a non-threatening student-centered learning environment, (b) students are able to choose what they wish to learn with wisdom, how they will learn, and understand why they will learn, which will consequently develop their artistic and creative identity quicker, (c) students develop an increased level of self-efficacy, and, (d) students can eventually cultivate determination and savviness as creative musicians and entrepreneurs.
Thank you for taking the time to read my philosophy of teaching.
José Valentino Ruiz-Resto, Ph.D.