"Regardless of what my students go on to do, I want to make their experience of learning music a positive one."
"I didn't actually know what a clarinet was when I chose it!" says Alicia Bennett of how she began playing clarinet. "I had been playing piano from the time I was 5 and loved it. In sixth grade a few friends of mine took up the clarinet and it seemed like a good choice." Born in Atlanta, Alicia is a self-described "army brat" who lived in diverse places including Texas, Georgia, Germany, and New Mexico. She settled down in New York when pursuing graduate studies at Stony Brook University.
"Regardless of what my students go on to do, I want to make their experience of learning music a positive one," says Alicia of her approach to teaching. While she focuses on developing strong fundamentals "the biggest thing for me is helping students find music that speaks to them, whether it's Mozart or Metallica." Alicia finds that practicing happens organically when students are working on music they enjoy. "They practice because they want to and not because I tell them to, and in turn they improve and are inspired to continue learning. And really, I think that's probably every teacher's goal—for students to be their own best teachers and inspiration."
While Alicia likes working with young students she recommends that children don't begin learning clarinet before age 8. "The size of the instrument and a child's physical size are very real considerations when playing clarinet." She also enjoys working with adults. "Whether absolute beginners or experienced amateurs, adults bring an entirely different perspective to their learning and in fact teach me a lot. Adult students often have a clear goal for themselves and know what they want to accomplish which allows me to offer structure to help them reach their goals."
Alicia has a wide array of musical tastes and counts Stravinsky, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, and Penderecki among her favorite composers. "As a performer I like working on music I haven't played before as well as standard repertoire. I like the challenge of contemporary music but also appreciate the clarity and sense of classical."
When not teaching and playing clarinet, Alicia enjoys reading, baking, playing and watching tennis, and spending time with friends and family. "I also like Sudoku puzzles but occasionally have to take a break from them when they start invading my dreams."