Pedagogy

sam reenan teaching in front of the class

First and foremost, I work to facilitate student growth in thinking about music. At its core, music theory involves conceptualizing and communicating about the way music works. As they develop this language, I expect students to engage at a high level in the classroom, primarily through discussion and collaborative work in a variety of student-centered activities designed for teamwork and debate. Most fundamentally, music-making is a central focus of my classroom, as I endeavor to devise music theory and aural skills in a practical way for students’ lives. By cultivating students’ musical vocabulary alongside their demonstrable musicianship skill set, I guide students to develop an in-depth cognitive representation with which they can pursue their unique creative goals.

My students often remark on the energy that I bring to the theory classroom; in order to encourage student engagement, and likewise to demonstrate my personal investment, I fill every class period (whether in-person or over Zoom) with enthusiasm, enriched and diverse content, interactive tasks, and most of all music-making and performance. Music theory functions as a mental framework—my role is to guide students to broaden and deepen the scope of that cognition so they may apply it creatively. In my experience as an educator, I have continued to refine these practices. Whether in the classroom, in office hours, or at home planning lessons, I keep in mind the guiding principles of inclusive teaching, positive practical applications, and student empowerment.