Alexander Xavier Charles

Performer, Composer, Educator

My teaching

is geared directly toward providing my students access to the skills and habits that not only lead to success as a musician, but promote a unified excellence across all spectrums; the methods and practices I impart to my students in their bassoon studies can just as easily be applied to every facet of their life. Through my teachings, I do not seek to create professional musicians; rather, I aim to instill in my pupils a love for music and a respect for themselves that can be carried with them wherever their lives may lead, whether that be to a concert hall or a classroom. As a teacher, I strive to provide my students with the best instruction possible, both in the practice room and out. Through modeling and presentation, coupled with performance opportunities and exposure to top-tier musicians and ensembles, my students have access to all the tools necessary to achieve success, whether that be winning their next big audition, or acing their upcoming scales test. Whatever the playing level, I aim to provide a learning experience best suited for each student's individual needs.

My entire musical philosophy is built around two fundamental underlying concepts, of which I refer to as the Two P's: Passion and Perfection, in that order. As professionals, it is always key to strive for Perfection, in any field; your product says more about you than words ever could, and anything worth doing is worth doing 100%. However, it is not unintentional that Perfection is listed second. I value above all else that unnamed fire that exists on the edge of control and chaos, that indescribable flare that most can only refer to as Passion. We tend to forget that in this age of technology, any machine is capable of perfection. Any recording can be "perfect" with enough takes. While Perfection is ultimately something that we all must strive for, it must never take precedent to the emotional factor that makes music such an indisputably human thing. I regard all of my endeavors with this philosophy, and I try and impart the same mindset to my students. Throughout the course of my instruction, a student can expect to learn the art of balancing the predictability of Perfection and the spontaneity of Passion.

The core concept of my playing style, and thus the style I convey to my students, revolves around the incorporation of vocal pedagogy and technique onto an instrumental medium. I have sang my entire life, and it has always had a profound effect on my musical interpretations; coming from a family of lifelong vocalists, I was always taught that the only true instrument was the voice, and everything else served merely as an extension. Although I had grown up with this tenet embedded in my musical philosophy, it was only when I began my undergraduate instruction that I began to understand what it meant. As instrumentalists, we tend to forget that before bassoons, before flutes, before drums, there was song. Our voice is among the things that make us who we are, and it is my goal to remind us of that. Learning how to think like a vocalist can not only change how we think, but change the entire way we play our instrument. By incorporating the skills and techniques learned by all beginning vocalists, I seek to impart in my students a physicality that is conducive to the best possible instrumental playing.

My teaching style is heavily Socratic in nature, hinging on an open dialogue between student and instructor. Throughout my experience as a student, I have noticed that the lessons that have stuck with me are the ones that I have deduced myself. Many times, I have come to conclusions days, weeks, and sometimes even months after the remedy had first been given to me. It is this process, of which I still frequently undertake, that has assisted me in reasoning that as a teacher, my job is not to give answers, but to identify questions and illuminate the path to their solution. In doing so, I strive to impart in my students the ability to not only think critically, but independently as well, producing pupils capable of making improvements with and without my guidance. I am certain that this not only creates a stronger musician, but a stronger human being.

My goal for every student is the same: to create the absolute best musician possible. There is no structured timeline for instruction, and no standard progression for improvement. Every student is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Some might pick up a concept instantaneously, while others might spend weeks grappling with it. I have learned that, in the path to accomplishment, the length of the journey is a non sequitur. What matters is the destination; how long it takes us to reach it matters not. Now, this is not to say that I do not expect the utmost effort from all of my students. However, in return, my students can expect my utmost patience.