Head, Heart, & Hands: Understanding, Interpretation, Application and Beyond
Seminar Portfolio No.1
Fall 2018

My Personal Metaphor for Teaching

What should a teacher be? 

This 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 amongst 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.

*See my internship portfolio “They ALL Hate Theory” for application of my learnings.* 


Reflecting on teaching

Image result for personal reflection


Here are my class writing assignments that are to help facilitate our readings and aid me in thinking about myself as a teacher. The first document is a reflection of three previous teachers that I have studied with. The first two, Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Sears were examples of highly effective teachers that left a lasting positive impact on me. The final example is of a professor who had a negative impact on me.

Each of these teachers appeared in different stages of my development as a human and musician. The first, Mr. Schmidt, was my teacher in 7th grade. This was only my second year playing the saxophone, so he was very influential during my formative years. Had I had the teacher I had in 6th grade, I would likely not have kept with music. I attribute my passion and devotion to music to Mr. Schmidt.

During my senior year of high school, Mr. Sears was my saxophone teacher. This was a monutmental year as I left my home and a high school that I already attended for three years, to pursue music at Interlochen Arts Academy for my final year of high school. Again, had I had a bad experience, I can’t say that I would’ve stayed with the saxophone. As we know, performing professions can be very thankless and exhausting, having such a positive and uplifting teacher kept me from giving up on myself.

The final example was my saxophone professor during my undergrad. His influence is described further in the attached document. The reason I chose to include a “bad example” was because it taught me a very valuable lesson. From that unfortunate experience, I discovered the type of educator that I do not want to be.

The result: impactful teachers for very different reasons.

MIE Writing Assignment no1


Reflection on the class:

This MIE class was an invaluable experience for me. In brief, this class, the readings, and discussions opened my eyes to what an effective and ineffective teacher is, what a successful class looks and feels like, how we learn and process information in educational and social settings, and how I can facilitate the process of information as a student or instructor.

Already, I have begun to use concepts like ‘hand, heart, and hands’ in my other classes and in my Teaching Assistant position. I am a true convert to this approach of learning, as I know that as a student I absorb very little information from a strict lecture based class. When I can encourage people to take a concept and use their heart or their hands, that facilitates connections to the mind, and I truly believe those connections and understandings will last far longer than a strict ‘head’ only approach.

Although, I already kind of knew that a strict lecture based method wasn’t that effective (from personal loathing of those classes), I found it eye opening the amount of ways we could tailor a class to better suit students… from different educational schemas to visual aids to even classroom setup! The discussions, readings, and guidance from this class will likely shape the type of teacher I become and I hope that it will help me be effective and memorable.

Class Activities

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

Teaching Outside the Lecture

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

Sample Curriculum

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

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


The following is an example on how the SHMRG activity sheet could be filled out.

Music Example Critical Listening Worksheet (15 points)

Composer/Title of Piece: Borbangnadyr with Stream Water


CONTEXT: The Five Questions

Based on our class discussion of the piece, your notes, and the study slides, answer the five contextual questions. The last question will include a SHMRG analysis.

Who’s playing?    (1)




-music from Tuva

Who’s “paying?” (1) -world music audience

-people of central Asia, specifically Tuva


Who’s listening? (1) -world music audience

-people of central Asia, specifically Tuva

-perhaps a smaller audience that also listens to Tibetan chanting


What is the relationship of the music to the culture? (1) – Throat singing is a type of overtone singing practiced by the natives of Tuva. The technique began with male herders and has been rising in popularity as a result of geographic location and culture. According to a Wikipedia article, throat singing in the open landscape of Tuva allows for sound to carry. This type of music has been a part in pastoral animism in which singers travel into the wilderness in search of the “right” river to create the “proper environment” for throat singing. It’s important to the culture of Tuva in that it identifies with the spirituality and importance of nature.
How does the musical content work?

(This is your SHMRG analysis).

SHMRG analysis. You must enter at least 2 characteristics for each category. You may write more. (10)
SOUND –        Nasaly

–        The sound creates nature imagery

–        Specifically creates the image of a stream, occasionally matching the pitch of the stream

–        The use of overtones adds to the effect

–        Flute like at times

HARMONY –        No harmony

–        Sometimes the overtones match the pitch of the stream

MELODY –        The melody is in the vocals

–        Stream adds to the melody


RHYTHM –        The stream acts as a percussive background

–        Rhythm is not the most important aspect of this piece

GROWTH (form) –        the growth of this piece is also like a stream, it trickles slowly to a bigger section then fades away as if the water is panning out.

–        Cyclical


Based on our class discussion of the piece, your notes, the study slides, or your own research, what stylistic term or terms might you use to describe this piece of music? (Please use musical terms; for example, “jazz” or “impressionism” would be a good answer, while subjective adjectives such as “beautiful” or “horrible” will not be accepted.) (1) -throat singing

-over tones

-air manipulation

-world music

-imagery music



© 2021 New England Conservatory