brad robin 

Teaching Philosophy

     I look to serve our community, both as teacher and composer. I hope to encourage curiosity, reflection and, critical thinking and I join in the process as a learner as well. In a classroom setting, I seek to be inclusive, developing a strong, unified classroom spirit, allowing students to feel comfortable asking questions and in being imperfect, optimizing their learning and creativity. I find  the best questions get asked when I encourage people to put forward the very questions they hesitate to ask; those usually yield great conversations.  With students, I seek to understand who they are, what their strengths are, and what they want. The more I know about them, the better I can direct them to resources, composers they may find inspirational, and provide opportunities for them to thrive.

     I apply the same philosophy in my teaching as I do in composing: keep the audience engaged. Depending on the length of a class, I may divide the time into different phases: teacher presentation, discussion, project presentation/feedback,  and demonstration. I'm not that far off  from being a student myself; I remember what is was like to be in class. I like, rather than me as the teacher presenting content all the time, to have the students present: research key concepts, bring information back to class, then we discuss. The same material gets disseminated and we create an environment of collaboration and communication. By dividing class periods up into different ways of being, students stay engaged.

     I like giving students, especially undergrads, an opportunity for self-reflection, especially undergrads. In aural training, I always record their sight singing assessments and will send them recordings of themselves afterwards. I'll have them pair with a partner, assess the others' recording, and give feedback to one another in order to foster accountability, critical thinking, and tact.

     When a student seeks help, I always try to be there for them. I will never forget a particular student who began the class year unable to match pitch. I failed her the first quarter, and after she appealed to me to have her continue in the class, I encouraged her to continue and work hard. She did, and we did. By the end of the year she was making A's on her performances and tests. With hard work and support, I firmly believe improvement is possible in any situation. I present myself as friendly and open to students, I genuinely enjoy teaching and love watching students succeed.

    I chose University of North Texas because of the opportunity to teach undergraduate composition. I enjoyed the layout of their program, wherein the first semester moved students through handwritten melodic, harmonic, polytonal, and serial composition projects all from a 20th/21st century perspective, culminating in final projects. The second semester was similar to the first and provided opportunities including proportional, rhythmic, graphic, and set notation projects  –  all off which had opportunities for readings and collaboration with performing classmates.   I have found collaboration with instrumentalists vital for both understanding possibilities and traditions of particular instruments, and for building lifelong relationships with possibilities for collaborative performances in the future, beyond school. I would seek to incorporate these opportunities, either through class projects, calls for scores, and as an integral part of the composition curriculum.

     I have taught classes outside my comfort zone and learned as a result. I cherish these opportunities.  I seek to incorporate what I have learned into both my teaching and my composing. An example is Commercial Music Production. I had done a few soundtracks prior and worked as a professional musician for years in the Chicagoland area as a pianist/keyboardist for private and corporate events. Though I have been mainly composing concert music in the most recent reincarnation of myself, my decade of performing classical, rock, pop, R&B, and jazz prepared me for a class wherein the purpose was to teach different musical styles and produce music for commercials and movies. I found I knew more than I realized when I prepared for the class. Not only did we produce multiple musical styles, we analyzed the relationship between music and video, ways music serves as counterpoint to the visual counterpart, and how contrast and synchronization can be used to serve aesthetic desires as a producer. As a result, students did exceedingly well and enjoyed the class, one I look forward to recreating and revising in the future.

     One of my favorite classes I have taught was Composer Choreographer Collaboration. I had taken the class a couple of years prior. What I loved about it was how it created a new community, one that I continue to enjoy for years after and seek to recreate in order for others to experience. In the class, composers and dancers collaborated to create integrated dance/music pieces via four different collaborative processes (music first, dance first, music-dance simultaneously, music/dance separately). Throughout the semester, we had workshop performances of each of the process pieces and ended the class with a final concert wherein composers paired with a choreographer and   created a longer piece. After taking the class, I began working as a dance musician accompanist and continued to work with dancers, eventually creating what has become my favorite medium: intermedia dance, video, music, and immersive sound art integrated into a concert length   production.

     I see myself not only as a teacher of content, but as a life resource. Students that transition from different states or countries may have difficulty adjusting to the transition. I work with administration to be a connection to resources when additional support may be necessary. At times, students face personal problems with difficulty; I seek to be a collaborator with students and administration to find solutions. I've had situations where I have needed to be firm about expectations, and hold students to standards they were unable to meet – to find that in time they were able to rise to expectations. I have also had situations in which giving a make-up when the student “forgot” to come to their final exam gave them the break they needed to get over their resistance to the class.

     I seek to give students pathways to develop their passions.


COURSES TAUGHT


MUSIC COMPOSITION I:

 To explore a variety of compositional techniques, repertoire, concepts, and aesthetics from the recent past, and to provide students interested in composition with the basic tools needed to compose effectively in contemporary idioms. Because music history and theory curricula focus primarily on music from the “common practice” era (c.1600-c.1900), this course supplements that material by focusing on music composed since 1900. Thus, it serves as an important foundation for the study of composition at the undergraduate level.


MUSIC COMPOSITION II:

This course continues the exploration of varied compositional techniques, repertoire, concepts, and aesthetics from the recent past, and provides students interested in composition with basic tools needed to compose effectively in contemporary idioms. Because music history and theory curricula focus primarily on music from the “common practice” era (c.1600-c.1900), this course supplements that material by focusing on music composed since 1900. Thus, it serves as an important foundation for the study of composition at the undergraduate level.



COMMERCIAL MUSIC PRODUCTION:

Commercial Music Production will be primarily taught by lecture, discussion and classroom demonstration. You will be composing music in this class. Students will have three major assignments, midterm, final, and a handful of minor assignments contributing to success in the class. Students will realize assignments on the lab workstations. Laboratory software will utilize sequencers and samplers from MOTU,Native Instruments, and other various software. Be prepared to spend at least two to three hours per week in the labs preparing projects. Grades will be based on the quality of assignments as well as a midterm and final on important concepts.
Course objectives include:
• Basic understanding of MIDI sequencing and software synthesis and the ability to use them to produce commercial music
• Understanding of the concepts of analog and digital synthesis and the studio recording process
• Musical understanding of genres in pop music and how to create music in contemporary styles
• Basic understanding of contracts

• Understanding and facility spotting and scoring to a film scene


COMPOSER CHOREOGRAPHER COLLABORATION:


Interdisciplinary, experiential exploration of collaboration between musician/composers and dancer/choreographers, which provides a framework for the creation of new music/dance collaborative projects. Exploration of music/dance collaboration historically.

AURAL TRAINING