Edward Balsam Hawthorne NJ, 07506
Instruments:Clarinet, Saxophone

Styles:Classical, Jazz, Rock – Alternative, Blues, Kids
Levels:Beginner, Intermediate
Experience:10 years
Rate:$50 / hrShare

Personal Statement

For as long as I can remember, music has been the most essential aspect of my life. My musical heredity descended from my paternal grandfather, who was an amateur clarinetist and saxophonist. I have childhood memories of him frequently performing along with jazz CDs for me and our family. One of those memories is a very distinct recollection of being struck by the passion he displayed on his saxophone on one occasion, and believe that his performance that night inspired me to pick up an instrument for the first time to try to emulate him.

My grandfather began teaching me how to hold and play the saxophone. The excitement in his eyes for sharing his love of music with someone else was contagious and changed my life. From that point, I knew that music was as necessary to me as eating and breathing and I let it set the course for my future.

When I began taking music lessons with other teachers, I found that practicing was often a chore and seldom always fun. The early stages of taking lessons were more frustrating than enjoyable, and I keep that in mind with my own students. A couple of great teachers were able to motivate me to practice more. I had a private clarinet teacher as well as a band teacher at school and believe that I benefited from these two very different teaching styles because it showed me that there are various ways to approach teaching the same subject matter. Today, as a professional music teacher, my experiences with my own early childhood lessons constantly reminds me that one method of teaching may not always work for all of my students, and so it is important to try different techniques to discover what works best for each young musician.

My first job after graduating from college was at a charter school in a very low-income urban district. After student teaching in two relatively affluent suburban districts, where the music programs were highly supported, the urban district was a lesson in the real-world challenges faced by many music teachers. Working in the urban district taught me more than I could have ever learned in my college classes about being an effective teacher in an inimical environment. I was faced with teaching band music to students on a stage in the gymnasium after regular school hours, where only a curtain separated us from the basketball practice. Under those adverse conditions I applied various techniques just to keep the students attention during a rehearsal, such as employing humor and talking to the kids about their day. Certainly, the occasional basketball flying onto the stage kept things interesting. There were also certain days when we were not permitted to rehearse because of basketball games taking place and complaints, reported to me by a school administrator, that we were making too much noise.

College had not prepared me to run a music program in a school where I had only half-hearted support from the school administrators. During my freshman teaching year I spent a lot of time considering the question of how to make inner-city kids care for something that the people running their school do not fully support. My solution was in realizing that bridging the gap between teacher and student can make a big difference in getting and keeping the students excited about learning and performing music. Talking with the kids, actively listening to them talk about their day and why they wanted to be involved with music opened up the door and allowed me to better connect with them and share my own passion for music. By searching for and thinking about ways to make the best of my teaching environment to make it work is an example of my dedication to the art of teaching and my motivation to push students to a higher level of achievement and to think about music in new ways.

In a time where more and more children are being classified with ADD or ODD, finding new ways to connect the subject of music with each student has been a challenge. My 2nd year of teaching found me working about a hundred miles away from my first job in distance and even farther away in terms of the school districts support for their music program. Even with generous administrative backing, I continually find new issues to be addressed and conquered. For example, one of my students is an 8th grade saxophone player who was learning disabled. He can produce musical sounds out of the instrument, but does not understand how to read the notes and when he should and shouldnt be playing during a piece. Since he is graduating from the middle school this school year, I want to give him a great concert experience as well as a greater understanding of the music and how to play his instrument. To achieve these goals I have written out a part him that he can play with the full band, using color coding to help him distinguish how long and short the notes are. By meeting with this young man individually during my lunch periods, I have been able to focus on his development as a young musician and make progress.

As a teacher, I always strive to keep in mind that the passion that I show for music may inspire some students to a lifelong love of music, just as my grandfathers passion for music inspired me. I truly believe that more than any of the other fine arts, music feeds the soul. Graduate school is my next step in my quest to continue to improve my teaching skills so that I can impart the same lifelong joy of music in others that was gifted to me by my grandfather and my teachers.

Education / Training

Bachelor of Arts in Music Education – Montclair State University

Master of Arts in Music Education – Boston University

Former private teachers:

Howard Isaacson – Clarinet/Saxophone
Tony Salicandro – Clarinet/Saxophone
Ken Robinson – Clarinet
David Singer – Clarinet

Edward Balsam