Statement of Teaching Philosophy . . .
by José Valentino Ruiz-Resto, Ph.D.
Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural 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. As a former music education-missionary in Latin America, Middle East, Europe, and Africa, my experience has instilled a deep-rooted understanding of teaching and playing music as a method of transcending cultural differences by uniting people of all-walks-of-life together. As often as possible, 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 ministers to and inspires people’s hearts. Based on my experience, 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. As a professional and active musician in the industry, my vocation as a performing artist-producer-educator and CEO of a successful independent record label for instrumentalists has lead me to share my every-growing knowledge of competent music industry navigation among other aspiring professionals, and in turn, has resulted in an unquenchable desire to cultivate the following skill sets among my students in higher education:
Skills in recording arts and sciences (i.e., producing, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering) visit www.josevalentino.com for evidence of numerous album productions as solo artist, co-producer, and sideman.
Performing and teaching cross-over musicianship on several instruments (i.e., bass guitar, flute, saxophone, Latin percussion) visit www.josevalentino.com for evidence.
Composition and improvisation in multi-music contexts (i.e., jazz, Latin music, African rhythms, World music idioms, Middle Eastern genres, Western Art, Pop, Caribbean music, Commercial music, Electronic, and worship music) — visit www.josevalentino.com for evidence.
Entrepreneurism for creative professionals (i.e., website design, social media marketing for musicians, teaching and constructing contracts and taxes for creative professionals, entertainment law, music management, teaching public relations skills for obtain multi-tier gigs, creating media content [music videos, album art work, flyers for concerts, etc.].
Hence, the training I offer students allows me to fulfill my unquenchable passion for equipping students to become truly cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and marketable music professionals pre-graduation. Furthermore, the term, cross-cultural, 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.
I hope this statement can inspire further conversation. As a teacher and professional colleague, I am highly relational, a team player, a learner, a teacher, a caring mentor for students, an adaptable & collaborative colleague, and a creative thinker/doer, a task-oriented person, and an entrepreneur.
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 (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 (see my TEDx Talk presentation - “iPad As A Musical Instrument).
One 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. Most 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). I believe this testimony is representative of my uniqueness as a music business and technology professor; 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 10+ 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, every student of mine has testified to having obtained deeper understanding by co-exercising each role within the 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). Not only my advisory of these recording projects demonstrated learning benefits for the students, the hard work exuded by both my students and I lead to various international accolades including two Latin GRAMMY Nominations, multiple DownBeast Student Awards, and one Parents’ Choice GOLD award. Hence, the combination of PBL, passionate mentorship in music business and technology, 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 teaching experience, the coupling of student-centered learning approach coupled 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 being 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 central to the learning experience. My research and teaching experience indicate these that (a) pedagogical techniques foster a non-threatening student-centered learning environment, (b) students are able to choose what they will 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 teaching philosophy.
José Valentino Ruiz-Resto, Ph.D.