“Bloom where you are planted” is Brandon Felder’s teaching philosophy. “Music represents time, and like a seed that is planted and takes root, it will sprout, grow and bloom. Music should take form and dissolve as music has the power to transform,” he says.
At SHABACH! K-8 Christian Academy, Felder makes his classroom and rehearsal room safe spaces for creativity, transparency, peace, harmony and respect where his students experience freedom of expression. “If students can feel an educator’s passion, they will gain inspiration and then work toward excellence,” he says.
Intentional music programming is something that Felder takes pride in. “It is a meticulous process in which I consider the culture of the community, sensitivities and student abilities,” he says. “I envision the end result — performances, end of semester, assessments, etc. — and what skills students need to accomplish these outcomes. Then I weave programs, concerts, recitals and formal and informal performances to support this.”
At SHABACH! and at all his previous positions, Felder first establishes involvement and connection within the school through pep rallies, assemblies, flash mobs and sporting events. Once the music program is visible at the school, he says to seek community involvement and performance opportunities in the community, first at locations (senior homes, hospitals, churches, nursing homes, malls and shopping centers, sporting events and city government events) within a 5-mile-radius of the school. As the school’s music program grows, continue to expand its footprint in 5-mile increments.
“Just as chicken makes its own gravy and bacon makes its own grease, I want to create musical citizens who are a product of my experiences,” Felder says. “I consider myself a teaching artist who continually fuels my own creative experiences through personal performance and objective opportunities. Once I am charged artistically and creatively, it is my responsibility as a music educator to provide innovation and fresh ideas to the classroom experience for students to expand outside of the four walls of the traditional classroom mindset.”
Felder is also the music director of the Georgetown University Gospel Choir. “I oversee the talented student singers who celebrate their spirituality through song and support Protestant Ministry services and special campus events while singing diverse musical selections,” he says.
In addition to his work at SHABACH! and Georgetown University, Felder serves on the GRAMMY Recording Academy Board, Washington, D.C. Chapter and its D.C. Education Committee, which identifies top programs across the region as well as recognizes economically underserved schools and their efforts in music education.