Teaching

Ash has experience as an educator in several disciplines. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant in music composition and theory at Florida State University (and previously, UNC-Greensboro), he has taught courses in Music Composition (introduction to composition, private lessons) and Music Theory (Theory I/II/III and Aural Skills I/II/III/IV). He also privately teaches/tutors composition and theory outside of school. During the summers, he serves as the Aquatics Director at Camp Raven Knob (Mt. Airy, NC), where he teaches courses in Lifeguarding, CPR, Swimming, and Canoeing in addition to training and managing a staff of about 20 lifeguards, swimming instructors, and boating instructors.

For specific information on music teaching experience, please view Ash's Professional Resume.

on the swimming dock at Raven Knob

on the swimming dock at Raven Knob

A statement on my teaching philosophy:

I live for the "aha" moments – those times when you think you have the trick figured out and then the magician does something even more spectacular.  Those times when you realize that you're only one move away from checkmating your opponent.  When you discover that augmented sixth chords in Mozart and tritone substitutions in Coltrane can be derived from the same theoretical principle.  Or when a Bach chorale ends with a Picardy third.

While composing, I often fantasize about a hypothetical music theorist of the future who will one day study my compositions and be able to learn something new – have an "aha" moment, if you will – after discovering the nuances of my technique and style.  Perhaps this desire to educate can be more realistically fulfilled through my career goal of being a professor of music at a university: teaching music theory and composition in a way that encourages students to make their own discoveries and forge their own connections.

I see the world of music theory and composition in this way – as a large jigsaw puzzle waiting to be connected together through imagination and innovation.  This is no ordinary 1000-piece rectangular arrangement, mind you; our puzzle has many, many more pieces of all shapes and sizes.  It is borderless, multi-dimensional, comes with no guiding illustration or box, and contains a number of extraneous pieces intended to distract the puzzler.  How fascinating it is to explore the countless creative possibilities this puzzle presents to us!

I strive to instill this passion for discovery and creativity in my students by encouraging them to develop their own strategies for inspiration, problem-solving, and relationship-forming.  Teaching can then become a creative art of its own, where I, the teacher, find new ways to stimulate "aha" moments in students as they investigate music's puzzle pieces.