What is your primary artistic medium?
First and foremost I’m a classical flute player. I also work as a teaching artist in elementary and intermediate schools, with developmentally disabled adults and run a non-profit arts organization, Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, Inc.
How did you get started as a teaching artist?
I started teaching private lessons while still in high school. That eventually led to jobs at numerous organizations as well as international teaching artist residencies in places as diverse as Venezuela, England, and Japan.
What led you to Creative Aging?
I’m of the belief that all persons have the ability to learn and to contribute. Even while in HS and college I was teaching adults who were interested in learning to play the flute. The first time I worked in Creative Aging with Lifetime Arts was six years ago. Since then Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, Inc. has taught almost 100 Creative Aging classes of the Roaring Chorus!
What has been the biggest surprise in working with older adult learners?
How extremely dedicated they are to their ensembles and the craft itself.
What are the differences and similarities in working with the K-12 and older adult populations?
There are many similarities – performance anxiety, note reading, craft based skill learning. The biggest difference I find is that adults know too much, which is great but can also be a potential source of frustration for them. They have exposure and life experience that informs them of how they want something to sound but may not quite have the skill set to execute the performance that they imagine in their head yet. Kids tend to be less hard on themselves and more willing to be molded and allow the learning process to take its course. Adults usually need more encouragement. Above I mentioned my belief that everyone has something to contribute, and adults frequently have to be reminded of this. It’s often harder for them to let go and allow themselves to take an artistic risk, and perhaps make a mistake.
What have been your biggest challenges? How do you respond?
My biggest challenge, hmmm, honestly it’s my time management. I’m often pulled in many directions – performing, teaching, and being the Artistic Director of a non-profit arts organization. My days hit the ground running and run til I drop!
What is the most satisfying aspect of this work?
I relish watching people grow and express. It’s rewarding to watch a person find their artistic voice and overcome performance hurdles.
What have been memorable/funny moments?
I enjoyed the Halloween class when all of our Roaring Chorus members dressed in costume, they went all out! We also had a lovely moment when two of our class participants got engaged!
What skills are most important when working with older adults?
I think with any student, it’s patience, patience, patience! And make it fun! At the end of the day I’m teaching people, no matter the age, no matter the challenges. My job is to be flexible in my teaching approach and allow them to have an experience.
How does this work inform your own artistic process?
I find that any time I teach, across any age group, it informs me as an artist. Teaching leads me to constantly assess how I play, how I create, and gain a deeper level of interaction with my own art. When I work with high level high school or college students, that especially affects my next performance of the pieces I am teaching them and we are exploring together.
What are your current or upcoming teaching or artistic projects?
Right now I’m working on my season with Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, Inc. (www.mcensemble.org), which includes the 6th Season of the Roaring Chorus, teaching privately (tknymusic.com) and performing across the tri-state area and US.
Thank you Tamara for your wonderful work with Lifetime Arts.
Check back each month where we will feature a new Teaching Artist who has excelled in their work with the Creative Aging process.
Roster Artist Happenings
(SOLO EXHIBITION) Montrose, NY
(SOLO EXHIBITION) Hudson, WI