Cultivating Growth
Teaching and the Growth Mindset
Cumulative Portfolio
Spring 2020

Beginning, Middle, End-ish

Beginning: I am currently a graduate student studying classical saxophone and music theory. Jobs in either field are largely based on instruction, whether private or in large groups. Before taking any MIE courses I had limited experience in music education. I have taught private lessons since high school to students age 3 – 18, was a computer instructor to seniors at a community center, and took one intro to music ed course in college. The intro class I took in my undergrad entailed educators from the area giving a presentation about what they do in their classes. While it did give me a few ideas, it didn’t provide any interaction.

Middle: As I began to take MIE courses, I was introduced to different avenues of learning about music education. There were lectures and class discussions, guest presenters, projects, and a plethora of reading materials.

End-ish: Upon completion of the MIE program, I now have tools to help facilitate my classroom instruction. I’ve learned about many different perspectives and philosophies through readings and guest presentations; I’ve gained creative approaches to help facilitate deeper understanding; I’ve gotten classroom experience and immediate feedback from my peers and professors, and real life experience through the internship program. Although learning about teaching doesn’t stop with the completion of the program, it is a solid springboard into my teaching career. In the near future, I will continue my education at NEC as a DMA candidate in Saxophone performance. I would like to continue teaching as a teaching assistant, giving private lessons in saxophone, and will be a music instructor in Sienna, Italy at Studio Toscano, a retreat for young artists (music and visual arts).


  • Models of Teaching (fall 2018)
  • Performing Artists in Community Outreach (fall 2019)
  • Introduction to Music in Education (fall 2019)
  • Music, Brain Development, and Learning (spring 2020)


  • Teaching Assistant for Felicia Sandler’s TP3 class(fall 2018)
  • Teaching Assistant for Felicia Sandler’s TP2 class (spring 2018)
  • Teaching Assistant for Josh Gilbert’s MIE501 class (2019)
  • Teaching Assistant for Lyle Davidson’s Counterpoint class (2019-2020)


The Artist-Teacher-Scholar

The idea of the Artist-Teacher-Scholar principle and matrix is to promote the synthesis of three practices- artist, teacher, and scholar. A personal synthesis of the three would create the most effective musical human. These ideas are further discussed in my journal entry about the ATS matrix.

The primary goal:

  • Be an Artist- skilled performed, improviser, composer
  • Be a Teacher- skilled instructor, leader, coach
  • Be a Scholar- skilled researcher, journalist, critic

Secondary (but most important) goal:

  • Find ways to meld the three.

My place in the ATS Matrix

At the beginning of the MIE program: I am currently a classical saxophonist in the process of developing the artistry of teaching music. I have the tools and habits to be a skilled performer but I am in my infancy as a teacher. As a student of theory, I am also developing my research and analytical skills by producing scholarly work. According to the matrix I would be in the first row of artistry. I have reached the first column of teaching, in which I am a musician and mentor, but I have not reached the level of a skilled studio or classroom instructor. After this class, I would like to have strengthened where I already am and continue to develop further into the matrix, as a more confident and skilled teacher and leader.

At the end of the MIE program: I will always be continuing to develop as a skilled musician, teacher, and scholar. Although I still feel I am at the beginning of my teaching journey, I now have the experience of four teaching assistantship positions, with another lined up, and new perspectives on educational instruction and growth. I feel as though I have gained clarity on effective teaching but I would like to continue to gain confidence with being in front of people and conveying the information I have in an impactful way. It’s been easy to not be creative in my lessons because at the collegiate level the information is the most important element, but using creativity to present that information can make it more impactful and fully comprehended. I continue to work on scholarly work in my academic classes and through the completion of my thesis. With these new perspectives and understandings, I hope to continue fine tuning my teacher skills and becoming an artist, teacher, scholar with presence, creativity, and effectiveness.


  • This is my final rationale statement. It represents my fully formed argument for the importance of music in education, effective teaching, successful learning, and the application of concepts learned in class through lecture, articles and readings, guest presentations, and student lessons.

What should a teacher be? 

This following is my metaphor for teaching. This was a concept discussed in my MIE class and one that I believe is essential to remember and put into practice in any teaching situation. By remembering my metaphor for teaching, I can take action to be the teacher that someone needs and one that I would be proud to be.

Teacher as Gardener

A teacher takes a small seed and provides it with water and sunlight, placing it into fertile soil among similar plants that require the same amount and type of care. A teacher-gardener watches over their seedling, checking on its progress and growth. They attempt to foresee challenges or problems, removing weeds and obstacles. They know that a succulent will never require the same care as a perennial or conifer, so they do not force one to be what they are not. A teacher-gardener encourages the plant to grow but does not force expectations, knowing that the plant has its own journey. A teacher plants knowledge, wisdom, artistry, patience and time into their students so that they may grow and encompass their individual goals.

Lesson Videos and Reflections

Counterpoint Lesson

Substitute for Lyle Davidson’s 16th cent. Counterpoint class

Lesson Video

Reflection: I was very excited to teach this lesson. Because I often sit in on this class as Mr. Davidson teaches, and I took this class last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to cover. Because I was asked to teach this class the day of, I didn’t have time to memorize everything I wanted to cover, so I jotted down areas of concern that I’ve noticed in their canon writing. I wanted this lesson to be an in-depth review of things they should’ve known from Mr. Davidsons lectures and from reading the text.

Positives: I had a better presence in the classroom than previous times. I think because Mr. Davidson asked me to sub for him just a few hours before class, I didn’t have time to stress and overthink the lesson. Additionally, writing canons is something I really enjoy and have a lot of familiarity with.

Negatives: When a student asked me a question that I didn’t quite understand, my mind went blank. I should have asked him to rephrase the question. There were a couple questions by that same student that stressed me out, not because I didn’t know the answer but because the answers weren’t definite or ‘black and white’. I fear that if I don’t give a clear cut answer it looks like I don’t know the answer, when really I do but it’s more complicated than where the students were at in the semester and I couldn’t bring up information that the professor hadn’t already taught them.

Ways to improve: Ask for a vague question to be rephrased. Continue to work on presence in the classroom by working on my poor posture and avoiding nervous habits like messing with my hands or an object in my hands. Additionally, I noticed that there was a lot of talking when I was having individual students work at the board. I’m 99% sure the talking was not counterpoint related. I had seen Mr. Davidson use this method of participation but I’m thinking maybe it isn’t the best method because of the dissociation from the rest of the class. Another option I could have done would be to have the class split into pairs and work on a canon and problem solve together.


Samples of Class Instruction – TP2

1st Time Teaching

My reflections about my first time teaching a class are presented under the reflections tab. I will share here, however, that after reviewing my video, Dr Sandler offered her thoughts. She said she liked how I asked questions and maintained eye contact. She liked that I would repeat what a student said back to them in order to have them clarify, as opposed to saying they’re wrong and correcting them. She didn’t offer any negative critique but said that comfort and confidence would come with experience.

2nd Time Teaching

This second video is the first part of my ternary lecture. This includes the lecture but not the class activity.

This is the second part to my ternary lecture. This includes the class activity.

MIE 501 Lesson

Composing a 16th cent. Canon in the Style of Lassus

Lesson Video

Reflection: This was my third or fourth time recording a lecture and it’s still painful to watch. Aside from my cringing, I did learn a lot from reviewing this video.

Positives: Having real-time feedback was helpful because it meant that I wasn’t left floundering, especially when I didn’t ask questions in a clear way. I was well prepared for my lesson and confident in the information. I had handouts, a presentation, and a class activity.

Negatives: This was painful; I’ve never had a professor sit in on a lesson of mine. Additionally, I’ve never taught people who were simultaneously instructed to judge me. The first thing I noticed was that my voice goes high and I lack presence and confidence. I went over the time allotted by ten minutes, likely because the class activity took so long. It’s difficult teaching peers.

Ways to improve: Don’t chose a topic that takes a semester to learn. If I chose this topic again, I would simplify it and set tighter parameters for the class activity (as can be seen in my final draft of the lesson plan). Avoid saying ‘um’. Avoid messing with my hands or an item in my hands (chalk). Avoid nervous laughter. Be a confident leader. Maybe avoid powerpoint; it made it seem more like a presentation than a lesson. Perhaps it would be best, if this was part of a series of lessons, to have the students look at a canon and analyze it- what are the intervals? Are there dissonances? If so, where do they occur? What elements are different from common practice period information they’ve already learned? etc. This wouldn’t be as ‘creative’ but if I encouraged the students to notice these things it would at least be engaging.

Reflections of Internships, Articles, and Experiences

Three Part Reflection Process on Internship Experience

These documents are my thoughts and reflections at different stages throughout my third internship. They reflect specific experiences, positive outcomes, frustrations, potential application of ideas, and my growth as I continue to learn more about teaching and apply that directly to my assistantships.

Pre Internship reflection

  • This reflection outlines my desires and expectations for both teaching assistant positions, as I am coming to them with the experience of prior positions and experience.

Midway Reflection

  • At this point, I had been observing the class for a few weeks and was already making a mental list of common questions/mistakes and things that the students needed work on. On a sheet of paper, I devised a makeshift lesson plan. I divided my class time into four categories: overview of rules, strategies for canon writing, common questions, and common mistakes. This reflection describes my lesson experience in detail.

Final Reflection

  • This assistantship was valuable because it allowed me to do more than my previous internships had and I interacted with all of the students, not just the ones who opted to reach out. Additionally, I continued gaining perspective and experience helping students with specific questions and concerns, got to be very involved because I was also taking the class, and was able to grow in my understanding of teaching while simultaneously being part of the teaching process.

Triple Entry Journal Responses to Readings


  • This links to my reflection on an article by Alan H. Schoenfeld about the concept of Metacognition (Metacognition- cognition meaning mental process, meta meaning about itself). Metacognition is thinking about your own mental processes. This mental process involves the Arts Propel concepts of “Production, Perception, Reflection”. You produce something, whether that’s a pitch or a musical idea, you think about it (perception)- what’s the tone, was it good bad?, then you reflect on what you can do with it- how can I make it better? Metacognition and this brief example involves constant reflection and shifts in strategy.

Misconceptions of Talent

  • My reflection based on the misconceptions of talent.
  • If one truly believes that “talent evolves from training and development,” how can one also claim that a gifted program “first seeks recognition of students who show potential talent” and, furthermore, create policy that states, “Any child who has musical potential deserves the opportunity to nurture this talent to its full extent”? (Scripp 2013, p. 61)

Lifelong Kindergarten

  • Continuing to learn the way young children do and applying those learning techniques to adult level learning.
  • “There’s a greater need for creative thinking today than ever before, and new technologies are offering new ways to help young people develop as creative thinkers.” (Resnick 2017, p. 3)

Gifted Education

  • My reflection based on the Borland article about the potential problems with gifted education programs.
  • “I believe that the concept of the gifted child is logically, pragmatically, and – with respect to the consequences of its application in American education – morally untenable and that the aims of the field of gifted education would have a greater likelihood of being realized if we were to dispense with it altogether.” (Borland 2005, p.1)


These links lead to my reflections on course readings about brain development, where I consider the information learned and make personal and societal connections.

Ratey Reflection 1

Ratey Ch. 3

Armstrong Early Childhood

Armstrong Middle Childhood

Armstrong Late Childhood

Armstrong Adolescence

Armstrong Early Adulthood

MIE 501 Class

Objectives/Desired Outcomes

Through this course, I hoped to gain the following:

  • A better understanding of music in education
  • Knowledge of cognition
  • A developed teaching philosophy or rationale
  • Strength in lesson planning
  • Tools for effective teaching
  • Helpful experience, guidance, and criticism

Actual Outcomes

Throughout this semester, I engaged in readings, discussions, projects, and presentations to develop my teaching skills and gain an understanding of how people learn and teach. Upon completion of this course, I have gained new perspectives on ideas like metacognition, flow, growth mindset, transfer, lesson planning, and multiple representations of information. I have successfully created and executed a lesson plan and have developed my rationale for music in education. Throughout this process, I have received helpful feedback from my peers and professor that have helped to mold my rationale and fine-tune my lesson plan.

Link to expanded class portfolio:

The concepts that affected my learning the most were:

  • Flow– An extreme and intense focus on one task or problem. Flow can be found in activities that require our full attention such as conversations with others, performance (athletic, academic, artistic), reading, etc. We can choose to increase flow by seeking out activities that require more attention or by making a conscious effort to focus our attention on any activity we are doing. The concept of flow is one that I noticed but never had a word for; in my most productive practice sessions the level of flow was high and I left feeling triumphant and pleased. Now when I practice, or am working on any necessary task, I make sure to limit/remove any distractions and find ways to throw myself into flow as quickly as possible. As part of my routine to encourage flow, I turn my phone on airplane mode and only use it for my tuner and metronome. Additionally, I section my time and work with more intention so as to not waste time and to keep me honest and focused on the difficult sections. This might sound rudimentary in theory, but in practice it has made my use of time more practical and productive. Additional discussion on the idea of flow can be found here.
  • Low Road Transfer– Old behaviors or skills fit the new (unfamiliar) context well enough so that they function quite adequately. This has manifest itself most obviously through the recollection of similar contexts and issues in previously studied pieces. This is a tool my saxophone professor has used in our lessons and one that I’ve used when breaking apart a difficulty. I further discuss these ideas in my journal entry about transfer.
  • Growth mindset- “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015) Having a growth mindset has been an immense challenge for me from elementary school to the present. I have always felt extreme disappointment and have been discouraged if it takes any time at all for me to grasp something. I get very frustrated and overwhelmed when I feel like something is over my head, in part because I want so badly to succeed. I’ve been participating t in competitions since middle school and have rarely won; the times when I came out on top were largely overshadowed by my awareness of how small my school and district, and therefor competition, were. Over the past three years, however, I have made improvement towards having a growth mindset, in part because I haven’t competed in anything since two years ago, but largely because I have watched myself go from a lowly theory major to a musician that professors and ensembles have relied on. My mindset used to be very toxic; my goal was to be the best saxophonist in the world. Not to be negative, but I understand now that that goal is fairly impossible. Some of the saxophonists that I hold in such high regard are already losing their foothold to a younger generation of saxophone freaks- people with insane techniques and gymnastic abilities for the new music being composed for them. What I can do, however, is be better than I was before and appreciate that with every headache and new challenge, I’m obliterating the limitations I held before. (Also, I’ve noticed that being reliable, prepared, and on-time counts for way more than talent, so there’s that.) These ideas are further discussed in my document on growth mindset.

Concepts that will most affect my teaching:

  • Flow- Educators/leaders can apply the concept of flow by being engaging, encouraging a high level of participation, and reducing distractions. Working as an educator to increase your own flow could be achieved by focusing your attention on creating a flow-centric lesson plan, collaborating and reflecting/applying other’s ideas, being passionate about the teaching topic, interacting and responding to student’s immediate feedback/participation. Ideas on implementing this concept are further discussed in my journal entry on flow.
  • High Road Transfer- Deliberate mindful abstraction of skill or knowledge from one context for application in another. Educators can encourage this level of transfer by making interdisciplinary connections. I’ve included examples of these kinds of connections in my Rationale Statement.
  • Growth mindset- Choose growth as an indicator of success rather than production. Students with a growth mindset take failure in stride and take pride in their personal improvement. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, can be limiting in that the student can be extremely discouraged when faced with a challenge they cannot solve immediately and will therefore avoid adversity or opportunities for growth. Some ways of implementing this: Don’t praise a child’s supposed talent or natural ability, rather, praise and encourage them for being diligent, focused, and growing over time. Praise them for tackling difficulties and using that knowledge later when facing a different problem; remind them that initial inability is not the focus. These ideas are further discussed in my document on growth mindset.

This class focused on the important topic of community.

We considered the following questions:

  • What is the community we belong to?
  • Why is community important?
  • Who is in need the most in the community?
  • How can we better serve the community?

In considering these questions, we spent the first half of the class learning about types of people in a community, spending the most time on seniors. For this we read David Solie’s “How to Say It to Seniors – Closing the Communication Gap with our Elders”. This provided an in-depth perspective of communication from both sides – the senior and non senior (often times their child). It gave great insight through situational examples about how people communicate in various circumstances, what they are feeling, what they are trying to convey, and what is actually coming across. Most of what was explained in this book could be applied to communication in general, regardless of age, making it an invaluable tool. We then put these concepts into practice in a simple way and went to our local senior living center at Bailis Assisted Living in Boston during the Christmas season and sang carols with them in the living room. We got to see many different personalities but didn’t get to have any conversations because of time constraints.

We also spent some time considering multiple aspects of a community, in which we picked a small town in Texas and inventoried different communal aspects- number of churches and schools, statistics on crime and average income, languages spoke, cultures, etc. We also performed a case study of a string quartet in Connecticut that is considering these things in a real world scenario. Trying to reach the community outside our classical bubble seems to be very difficult and trying to get the community to care about something they are potentially unfamiliar with is very challenging. What we learned from the case study though is that immersing yourself into the community, being part of it and cultivating those relationships is a big first step. When you care about  well being and interests of others, they are likely to reciprocate and this kind of relationship fosters the trust and care needed to share your art or music and ingrain it into the societal fabric.

Head, Heart, & Hands

In this models of teaching class we considered ways to convey information to ensure true understanding and long term retention. One of the most important subjects to me was the concept of “Head, Heart, and Hands”. This idea suggests a well rounded approach to teaching to create unified understanding. We can teach something conceptually, meaning the head. We can attach emotion to it with the heart, and we can use some kind of hands-on activity to involve the body in the process. This method is a three pronged approach that offers more than one way to understand a topic.

Here is a sample of curriculum to explain concepts in the standard way:

I wanted to include a sample of a possible curriculum for a music theory class. Although theory classes tend to have generic expected learning outcomes across most schools, I wanted to include the ideas of artist-teacher-scholar and mind-heart-hands. I think because theory classes can be quite black & white, we often exclude musicality and expression from the teaching model. Most, if not all, of the students I’ve ever talked to have said that their theory class is the one they struggle with the most. Many of them have gone so far as to say they hate theory. My goal is to change that. Students, especially those at a conservatory who are already solely focused on music, have a lot of expression and passion to demonstrate. I believe it’s my purpose to bring some of that musicality back into theory. One way to do this is by exploring theoretical concepts through artistic means with use of piano to ear training, solo or chamber performance of pieces depicting these concepts, and audio recording discussions. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of analyzing chords outside of context or its musical linear behavior. The purpose of theory, in my opinion, is to aid musical interpretation and create a better and more convincing performance of that interpretation. It takes feeling and emotion and gives it a logical and rational backing.

Here is a sample curriculum for my (AP) music theory class.

MIE Ideas of Curriculum

Another method was creating a visual:

Here are samples of visual diagrams that I used in tutoring for a music history class. Although outside my strict TA position, the lessons I learned in my MIE 512 class about how students retain very little from lecture style teaching, inspired me to get creative with how I present information. Here is a visual flow chart, as example. These show connections between ideas, whether that be plot or characters. This directly relates to the PPR (production, perception, reflection) model, as creating the visual diagram influenced my perception of each opera and facilitated reflection. This reflection was especially evident after I shared these diagrams with the class and others commented and shared their perceptions.

Enlightenment diagrams marriage of figaro diagram MD

Or, by a class activity:

Here are some activities that were created to engage the class in mind, heart, and hands. These activities were first explained, then demonstrated, and performed.

mie canon round pdf

Another way is to test understanding, as in my example here:

Rubrics for examination

This is a rubric to evaluate students listening techniques and what they are learning and interpreting in an active setting. This rubric also engages them in active listening instead of letting their mind wander.

Blank Shmrg handout

Music, Brain, Development, and Learning

This course enabled me to explore the relation of our brain to music, development, and learning through class discussions, readings, and projects about anatomy, human development, other theoretical topics.

Desired outcomes:

  • Basic understanding of brain anatomy and functions
  • Knowledge on the developmental stages
  • Ideas on relations of the brain and music

Actual outcomes:

  • Basic understanding of anatomy, procedures, and functions
  • Theoretical and anecdotal understanding of varying human development
  • Deeper understanding of perception, plasticity, attention and consciousness, memory, emotion, language, cognition, learning, etc.
  • Ideas on using our newfound understanding to better design classroom instruction

Link to expanded class portfolio:

Research Project

Topic: Pre-Performance Anxiety

Object: This project will include a summary of my research findings, a survey of New England Conservatory students on the topic of performance anxiety, and resources for musicians to combat pre-performance anxiety.

Why this topic?

I have always felt an insane amount of anxiety before any solo performance, whether it was a three second long solo in wind ensemble or a 20 minute concerto accompanied only by piano. No amount of preparation has ever mattered because when the time came to perform or compete by body would betray me with a stomach knotted in fear, sweaty palms, a rapid heartbeat, a dry mouth, inability to breathe deeply, and nervous/negative thoughts. It is my hope that by researching this topic and gaining a deeper understanding I can help myself and others (students/colleagues) surpass these horrible feelings.

Questions to consider:

  • What is pre-performance anxiety? (definition, triggers, symptoms)
  • How does it differ from generalized anxiety?
  • Who experiences performance anxiety?
  • How can performers combat it? (tools/techniques)

My research paper on MPA:

Music-Performance-Anxiety and Our Brains

Link to survey:

Conclusions: It would appear that everyone, or almost everyone, experiences some amount of pre performance anxiety. The biggest conclusion I’ve come to from this project is that the topic of music performance anxiety (MPA) is not covered enough in our musical education, especially for how many of us it affects. I thought I was somewhat of a minority in my MPA, but clearly I am not. I have studied music in public schools, in a private music high school, in a public university, and now at a private conservatory and I have never come across opportunities for students to learn about MPA nor have I seen strategies offered on how to combat it. It seems to be something we are meant to ‘deal with’, while the research shows that we are all trying various ways to deal and coming up short.

Sue Lackey – 5th Grade Teacher


  • Interview a teacher (my mother-in-law) and learn everything about teaching
  • Flatter my mother-in-law by showing interest in her passions


I was hoping to gain insight on the evolution of Ms. Lackey’s teaching style, her use of music in the classroom (if any), and her personal teaching philosophy, as far as her focuses and learning outcome goals.

Teacher Interview

This is my transcribed interview with Sue Lackey. Ms. Lackey is my mother-in-law and also a seasoned veteran of teaching 5th grade math, science, and social studies. I chose her for many reasons: first, I have seen her teach in person in her classroom and I really admire her teaching style; secondly, I love her as a person so I was very interested and invested personally; lastly, she has vast experience teaching and a background in music despite her non-musical subjects.


From my teacher interview with Sue Lackey I learned that the repetition of concepts through multiple representations is very important. Additionally, I noticed that she uses the strategy of making learning creative and fun, often employing music as a tool of creativity and focus. One of the most import topics she mentioned was adapting to situations and applying different teaching strategies when necessary. Although this seems like an obvious idea, switching teaching strategies requires a level of improvisation and skill. Focusing on the growth of the students requires creativity, improvisation, and reflection, all of which are applicable to the instruction of all subjects, including music.

Lyle Davidson – Interview

Interview Notes – Lyle Davidson

  • I am a teaching assistant for Mr. Davidson and have had the opportunity to learn from him in music theory and MIE classes.
  • This is a prose version of my interview with Lyle Davidson. We met for an hour to talk about memorable musical moments and his music and academic journey. Although brief and narrow, this document lists biographical details and experiences important to Mr. Davidson.

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