Sam's passion for music has always come with a desire to share his passion with others. Teaching began for Sam during high school, where they began teaching private lessons in woodwinds and piano.
When they entered their second master's degree at the Hartt School of Music, Sam got their first teaching opportunity as the Graduate Teaching Fellow in Music Theory. While in this position, Sam taught two semesters of Music Theory Fundamentals, and two semesters of Diatonic Harmony.
Sam continues to teach private lessons in many instruments, including saxophone, flute, clarinet, oboe, piano, guitar, electric bass, drum set and composition. Sam formerly taught Advanced Placement Music Theory at West Hartford Public Schools, and currently serves as a Substitute Artist Instructor for Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.
"There are two facets of education I think about most as a music educator: Empathy and equity - it's what I call the 'two e's' philosophy.
I feel that the ability to empathize is the most important ability to have when building relationships with students. Different teachers have different philosophies on this; some will present their material and tell students 'you only get out of it what you put into it,' but it's important to recognize that a student's takeaway from a classroom is not a one-way street. The student will get out of the class what they put into it, plus the learning environment the teacher creates. The ability to empathize with a student's emotions and needs is important when structuring a healthy learning environment. If a student is facing difficulty in their lives and has trouble keeping up with the class material, the solution cannot be to call it 'survival of the fittest.' A teacher must be able to empathize and adjust the classroom so that the learning environment can work for every student, and that is the approach I bring to my own classroom.
Equity and empathy go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to teaching music. For the bulk of my career, I have taught harmony of 18th-century Europe. This material is typically represented almost exclusively by white men. However, my vast educational background has allowed me to see the parallels between this type of harmony and music of different cultures, as well as jazz and popular music styles. I am always sure that the material I teach can be represented by musicians of different races, gender identities and sexual orientations, and so my presentations on 18th century harmony include these different musicians. I do this because I believe when we represent music without diversity, we send the subliminal message to students that if they are of a different cultural background than those of 18th-century Europe, they might not be able to make it in music - whether we mean to or not. In my goal to make music more equitable, I make sure that all music education is represented by a diverse pallet of artists in my classroom."