"As a teacher, I take my role very seriously because I honestly want to help as much as I can. I want each student to realize as much of his/her potential as possible. It used to be that success was measured by winning a job in an orchestra but times have changed. An orchestra job is still the best and most secure way to make a living from the bassoon but it isn’t a realistic goal for every student. There are many options these days for a life in music. It’s quite normal for players to piece together a decent income from many different sources: teaching, chamber music, broadway shows, per service orchestras, and all sorts of day jobs, some of which might not be musical at all. But if it’s a job or a creative activity of any kind that involves the bassoon, you need to play well! You need to proceed through life with a tool box of bassoon skills that will prepare you for whatever life presents. It’s my job to give you those skills, to guide you in filling that tool box; what you end up doing with those skills is up to you.
I began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1992 and at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in 1997. I have taught in excellent summer programs like Domaine Forget, le Camp Musical des Laurentides, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. For many years, I was a woodwind coach with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and I am still the bassoon coach for that group. I have given clinics and masterclasses at such institutions as Wilfred Laurier University, the Gatineau Conservatory, l’Université de Montréal, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Indiana University, and in exotic locations like Cambodia and Brazil. But I also really enjoy teaching beginners; since 2008, I have taught at the Cammac Music Centre in Quebec, a camp for amateur musicians and their families. Lately, I have begun coordinating the chamber music program there and I conduct the beginners’ ensemble class. Starting in 2008, I have taught all levels of bassoonist every summer at the Interprovincial Music Camp, Canada’s top camp for high school level band and orchestra musicians. My private studio in Toronto includes beginners, high school students, adult amateurs, and, of course, my university students. I don’t insist that they all sound the same but I do insist that they enjoy playing the bassoon, that they play expressively and that they sound good doing it.
All of us teach more or less as we were taught so my approach to teaching is a hybrid of influences. My Bachelor’s degree is from the Eastman School of Music where I studied with David VanHoesen and my Master’s is from the University of Southern California where I was one of the last students to graduate from the studio of the renowned Norman Herzberg. Norman was of the same generation as many of the most famous American bassoonists of the 20th century such as Sol Schoenbach and Leonard Sharrow; they were all students of Simon Kovar who played second bassoon in the New York Philharmonic. Norman took that teaching and added many of his own very systematic exercises and structures; his greatest protegé is Ben Kamins who is probably the leading teacher of the bassoon in North America. I was also heavily influenced by Christopher Millard and Gustavo Nunez, and my early foundations were formed by David Carroll and Gerald Corey. Other summer festival influences include Denis Michel, Sol Schoenbach, and Sidney Rosenberg. I have to say I also learned a huge amount by playing in a quartet for years with my excellent Caliban colleagues, and also by observing years and years of the excellent masterclasses given by guests at the Glenn Gould School.
My goal is to bring together all these influences to create a program that is custom-fitted to each student, a program that acknowledges the student’s goals, their tastes, their limits, and their abilities, to end up with a balanced program that engages and stimulates each player’s natural desire to improve. I try to strike a good balance between technical demands and musicality and I try to foster an approach to music that promotes creativity and ideas while still building a solid technical foundation."