Clarinet, Music Theory, Beginning Saxophone
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching for going on 8 years.
Which Opus Music Academy locations do you work? Do you have your own studio? If so, where is it located? Do you offer in-home lessons?
I teach out of the New Hope and Robbinsdale locations. I also drive to students so they can learn out of the comfort of their own home.
What do you teach? Anything else you teach?
I teach clarinet, beginner saxophone, and music theory.
What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?
I have two degrees in clarinet performance and first started teaching in my undergrad. I started teaching high school students, beginner students, and then non-music majors. Since then, I have taught students anywhere from elementary school to adult beginners. My biggest take away is anyone in any stage of life can start studying music for fun or to start their career!
What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?
I am really good at meeting students in any stage of their musical paths and getting them to that next check point. Getting them to that next stage is part of their next challenge and is so rewarding for students and teachers. Whether that be a regional band audition or a performance for family and friends, it’s so beneficial to have someone there to help you along.
What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?
When students start out there is always that initial spark of enthusiasm and excitement to learning a new skill. Some people end up deciding it’s not for them; that they prefer to enjoy music as a listener only. For me, it’s hard building a connection with a student and their family and seeing them quit for reasons beyond their control. While life always plays a factor in our musical journeys, it’s hard when music has to be put on pause.
A funny student story:
I was teaching a master class to a group of undergrad students a couple years ago. After one student finished playing, one comment made was how he kept running out of breath. One student suggested, “Have you ever tried playing while running up a flight of stairs? It’s great for control.” While he was totally kidding, it’s not a bad idea and the class got a kick out of it.
What do you do to retain your students?
Make it fun for them! While there are often etudes and studies that can seem tedious, I believe it is important to play something they really enjoy during every lesson. It can be used as a warm-up or a way to end the lesson, but music should never get stuck in the tedium of technique.
What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?
My biggest thing is meeting students where they are. I heard a TED talk calling it “Meeting People in their Onlyness”. If you aren’t connecting with your students, you won’t be able to help them on their musical journey. Music lessons aren’t cookie cutter and I believe it’s vital to connect with them and start from their beginning, which is different for everyone.
What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?
I listen to many different types of music, so it’s impossible to pick just one. My favorite classical clarinetists are Sabine Meyer, David Shifrin, Anthony McGill, and Jon Manasse. They each have such different styles but are amazing. For pop music I love Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Lewis Capaldi. Again, different styles but such talented performers.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Not sure! I’m an open book and what you see is what you get.
Let’s say you’re having coffee with a brand-new teacher. What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have known when you started.?
Not everyone will learn the same way I did, and I won’t teach the same way my teachers do. It took me several years to understand that while there can be benchmarks for students, there are several different paths to get there.
Let’s say you’re visiting with a teacher who is feeling burned out. What advice would you give to them to give life to their studio?
Switch things up! It happens to every teacher at some point. I think it’s very important to keep everything fresh. If possible, change something so that you don’t fall into a rut. If you’re not feeling your best, chances are that your students aren’t getting the most out of their lessons.
We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy. What do you do with that student or family?
I’m very accommodating, so I try to make things work for anyone in any scenario. If there’s anything I can change and not compromise the education of the student then I’ll do it.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
Travel to different countries! I love to travel and explore different cultures, landmarks, and foods. I would to spend a lifetime living and moving all over and seeing cool new places every day!
If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?
Definitely be a biologist! The world is full of so many interesting things and studying it on a more in-depth level would be so fulfilling.
Want to learn more about Dalton Swallows? Email us to find out more, and maybe set up your first free trial lesson!