I have many years of experience teaching students and ensembles of all ages and abilities.

With classroom teaching experience at the UCLA and APU, giving master classes, leading sectionals, or coaching chamber groups, I feel confident teaching in any setting.

Azusa Pacific University

UCLA Department of Musicology

UCLA Department of Music

Harmony Project

Education Through Music--LA

SOMA Music Academy

Mosaic Music

South Pasadena Strings Program

La Canada Music Studio

Diamond Bar High School

Baldwin Park High School

 

 

Teaching Philosophy

As each student brings his/her own experiences and a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses, I tailor the lessons and repertoire to each student. This enables us to continue to build on strengths, while developing new techniques and improving on weaker areas. I do not require all of my students to follow a pre-designed plan or sequence.

 

Technique

 

Developing a wide foundation of technique is critical for success as an instrumentalist. Cello is a very physical instrument, and skills must be developed and maintained with consistency of practice. A student's progress can be seen like a pyramid: the broader the base (or foundation) is, the higher it can be built up. A healthy regimen of scales, Feuillard (daily exercises), Cossmann, Piatti, and Popper ensures that the student is fit and develops a wide range of advanced techniques. These skills must always be viewed as a means to achieve musical expression, though--they are the tools that enable communication.

 

Artistry

 

Great technique is wasted without creativity and a focus on expression. It is important, then, that students develop to be well-rounded individuals who have a lot to say through their playing. I encourage students to read and become familiar with other art forms. It is also crucial that they understand the lives of composers and the times their music originated from. My undergraduate education in the Douglas Honors College (based on the "Great Books" model) instilled in me the importance of critical thinking and a broad perspective, which I seek to encourage in all my students.

 

Sports

 

I approach cello similarly to athletic training. The body and mind must be trained for consistency and reliability, in order to stand up to the pressures of performance and competition. As an avid runner and having grown up playing many sports, I find the connections between sports and music to be rich and numerous. For this reason, I wrote my D.M.A. dissertation, entitled Training for Performance: Lessons from Sports Psychology Applied to Musical Training, in this area.

 

Technology

 

I encourage all students to use the many tools available to musicians today, such as: smartphone apps (especially tuner and metronome), recording devices, and software notation programs. While these tools greatly enhance daily practice and performance preparation, there are no quick fixes. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of musical training is the "old school" way in which skills must be developed slowly, with consistent practice over time. The steady progress toward, and achievement of long-term goals is a great experience in our age of instant gratification.

© 2019 by Jonathan Thomson

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