Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb’s Teaching Philosophy

The student must be trained to be his own teacher.  Throughout the course of their lifetime, students will spend much more time practicing than they will spend in lessons.  If they have learned to be good teachers for themselves, then their time alone will be vastly better spent.

One of the best ways to help a student learn is to relate new ideas to their existing knowledge whenever possible.  This is accomplished through the use of such things as imagery, analogies, and metaphors, both verbally and physically.

A great teacher must know how to teach students to change their attitudes and their way of thinking about music.  In order to advance at any appreciable rate, one must concentrate, pay attention to detail, think in a specific and organized manner.  In addition, one must be willing to change and to try new things, one must know that he is capable of improvement, and one must have a good and genuine reason to want to learn that instrument.  Fortunately, these attitudes and ways of thinking can be taught.

Musicality is important above all else.  The way to play musically is to figure out the words and meaning, the story and the drama, implied by the music itself and to shape the music at all times to bring out this meaning.  Every emotion has a place in music except one: boredom.  Music must be played with direction, which requires change and variety, from one moment to the next. "Technique" is simply the ability to play such that the shortcomings and limitations of one's body and one's instrument do not get in the way of the music.  To play musically requires that one play comfortably and naturally.  Physically, this means that you must be like a living spring, constantly sculpting rounded motions.

To study with Dr. Whitcomb....