Statement of Teaching Philosophy . . .
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 digital media arts and music industry. As an educator, I have witnessed the benefits of this approach with my students at the highest level as we have collectively been nominated for a couple of GRAMMY Awards for our works in Latin Jazz and Instrumental music, as well as 45 DownBeat Student Music Awards [most prestigious award for jazz education] in jazz soloist and group, blues/pop/rock soloist and group, Latin group, Classical performance, studio and live engineered recordings in both undergraduate and graduate categories. These are several accolades that have been a result of teaching from a student-centered learning approach coupled with imagery-based instruction (part of my dissertation research) to foster creative thinking and music-making while advising several group projects (i.e., albums, film scores, compositions, and so forth). Further positive outcomes have manifested as a results of the implementation of this teaching philosophy combined with my students’ hard-work ethic (i.e., students landing audio engineering jobs; starting their non-profit music organization, obtaining endorsements, and touring with acclaimed artists such as Bruno Mars, Trombone Shorty, and the late, Prince).
Student-centered learning theory and imagery-based instruction (i.e., teaching with representational and resembling descriptors) 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 aim is to help student understand - apply the wisdom at the appropriate time - what they must do musically and entrepreneurially at a level that is not just recalling information from a text-book, but 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, I know I am able to put my students’ interests first, acknowledging their voice as central to the learning experience. I believe by fostering a non-threatening student-centered learning environment, 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, increase their level of self-efficacy, and cultivate their determination and savviness as creative musicians and entrepreneurs.
Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Pedagogical Approach
In today's music industry, I believe it is imperative to teach our students to become multi-faceted musicians & music entrepreneurs who are culturally adaptable. Cultivating this within students would help expand their platform of job opportunities, broaden their audience reach, and enrich their musical lives. As a professional musician, my expertise are in all aspects of recording arts and sciences, performing and teaching cross-over musicianship on several instruments, composition and improvisation, website design, social media marketing for musicians, teaching and constructing contracts and taxes for creative professionals, teaching public relations skills for obtain multi-tier gigs, creating media content (music videos, album art work, flyers for concerts, etc.), allows me to equip students to become truly interdisciplinary musicians and digital media artists.
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. My experience in the mission field has strengthen my teaching to become more cross-culturally inclined.
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.