A Portland native who grew up just a few miles from Hoffman Academy, Joseph's approach is to make every lesson fun and exciting, but also rigorous and thorough. His curriculum draws from rock and pop, as well as classical music, jazz, blues, and folk songs, ensuring that every student's education is well-rounded. Joseph's students learn to perform at a high level, and they are also exposed to the advanced skills of improvisation, songwriting, and playing by ear and reading music.
Outside of Hoffman Academy, Joseph is an active performer in the Portland indie rock scene, having performed everywhere from no-name dives to the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall. He holds a master’s degree in Jazz Composition from the Frost School of Music (University of Miami) as well as a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Guitar from American University.
Get to Know Joseph
What is your teaching philosophy?
First, the teacher has to develop a positive relationship with the student. Children have an innate desire to learn, but it’s hard for them to open up to the learning process unless they are working with someone they like and trust. Whenever I meet a new student, my first goal is to create a fun and relaxed environment where the student can feel comfortable and ready to learn.
Second, I believe that hard work and enjoyment go hand in hand. Playing an instrument casually is fun, but when you truly accomplish something big - learning one of your favorite songs, a difficult song, perhaps something you never thought you’d be able to play - the experience is much more gratifying.
I try to get all my students on a “positive feedback loop” of hard work. It goes like this: The students who work hard accomplish more, and the more they accomplish, the more enthusiasm they have for working on music. If you tap into that positive feedback loop, practicing becomes inherently rewarding, rather than a chore.
Last, I believe that every student deserves a positive experience in music lessons. I think there are a lot of myths in our society about music. There is a belief that musical ability is a natural gift, a matter of fate. Some of us have it, and the rest are hopeless. I strongly believe that these myths are false, and that musical ability can be cultivated just like any other skill. My belief is that every student has the capacity to learn and enjoy music.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Why?
The ability to freeze time! I would use it to take naps.
If you could master one skill you don't have right now, what would it be?
I wish I knew how to build and repair my own instruments!