A Look into the Professional Life of Wesley Ferreira
Becoming a member of a studio is one of many defining aspects of studying music within higher education whether within the collegiate or conservatory setting. Although the word “studio” itself by all definitions simply refers to a physical space, we frequently use the term to describe a collection of individuals who study a common instrument or who study under a common teacher. During our years of advanced musical study, the studio can provide both positive and negative experiences as well as influence and shape our ability to function and succeed as musicians.
I have always held the belief that a student’s musical development can be positively influenced by their peers. As a teacher, I have the ability to directly influence a student each week through my interactions with them (which may range from 1 to 2 hours), however, students spend much more time with one another rehearsing and performing in ensembles, chamber groups, as well as time spent in the academic class room, and in social settings. There have been numerous studies on the benefits of peer-assisted learning. We have the opportunity to use this in the studio.
With this in mind, I have focused on developing and fostering a culture that is guided by the belief that the collective studio will shape my students and contribute to their growth even when I am not present with them. A studio takes on the personality of their teacher and I aim to set clear expectations for my students. The development of self-discipline, curiosity, drive, thoughtfulness, and artistic collaboration in the context of a growth mindset allows developing musicians to begin to reach the highest levels of artistry. These are principals that we should all aspire to. I believe that students should take ownership of their own education, and thus I structure assignments and studio class sessions to encourage constructive and thoughtful commentary of oneself and others.
I promote a sense of community through social gatherings and always try to balance the rigors of study with lighter moments. I am also mindful of populating my studio not simply with talented musicians, but with great people. This has a tremendous impact. I have my students regularly observe one another in lessons and encourage them to perform often in front of their peers and colleagues. I challenge them to not to shy away from, but to feel their own vulnerability and to trust their studio colleagues. This allows for our "inner child" to emerge and to develop into a confident musician and artist. With guidance and through the accumulation of positive experiences within this shared environment, the collective personality of the studio emerges.
When students within the studio begin to trust each other, they drop barriers and influence one another’s growth. This has an accelerating effect. They begin to offer support and guidance to their peers, they ask questions of each other in the practice rooms, and feel comfortable encouraging and challenging one another within the clarinet section of ensembles.
One final but equally important aspect that I promote within my studio is the notion that we can use the study of music to grow as individuals. I speak to my students about using inevitable setbacks and successes to work on developing ourselves, our relationships with others, and to re-frame our interpretation of our place in the world. The study and performance of music influences our levels of patience, acceptance, creativity, persistence, determination, and confidence. Ultimately, growth as an individual will influence one’s growth as an artist. The big picture is that music is a human artistic endeavor, and an expression of what it is to feel human emotions.
As studio personnel changes over time, each class sets a legacy. They set expectations and models of achievement for future classes. Members of a studio often end up becoming life-long friends and network connections. As my students leave the comfort of the school setting and venture out into the world, my hope is that each of them continues to aspire to the principals of our studio and reflects on their time as part of the studio with fond and positive memories that will last a lifetime.
Fostering a Great Studio
Becoming a member of a studio is one of many defining aspects of studying music within higher education whether within the collegiate or conservatory setting. I discuss my thoughts on how to use peer assisted learning and fostering a culture where students progress as a collective, independent of the teacher.
Finding your Musical Mentor
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a music school, is the search for a musical mentor. The relationship between a music student and their private instructor is a special one. When that relationship becomes a student-mentoring relationship it can be become even more rewarding.
PRESS ON: Overcoming
As a developing musician, learning to deal with periods of doubt is a necessity. It is important to keep focused on the end goal, and to not allow the day to day difficulties discourage you. I share a quote by Calvin Coolidge that has guided my development, with the hopes that it too may help you along your musical journey.
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