stat tracker for tumblr


James Madison University Clarinet Studio with Sponsored Chair The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall

Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching can be summed up into the simple phrase, “knowledge is wasted if not shared.” I have always been drawn to the teaching profession and feel extremely fulfilled when I share my wisdom with others.  As a clarinet studio teacher, I have developed a strong ability to communicate and relay my thoughts to others in a clear, concise and encouraging fashion.  My students enjoy learning and leave their lessons enlightened and confident in their abilities. In addition to good communication skills, I realize the importance of having keen insight and perception to each individual student. Every person is unique with different strengths and weaknesses, and as an educator I cannot assume every student will have the same mental and physical capabilities. Teaching should not be perceived as a “cookie cutter” philosophy. From the initial lesson, a successful teacher adheres to the individual needs of each student and realizes the potential of the person he/she is working with.  It is important for an educator to challenge his/her students and to help them broaden each and every goal attained.  I have learned through my own pursuits in the music field that it is important to be patient and supportive amidst this challenging process. Bouts of inconsistency will appear, when nothing seems to go right one day, everything will fall into place the next. It is the latter day, which is the glorious one, for all the hard work and patience will finally materialize for both the teacher and the student.

The music profession presents itself with very different challenges and expectations than other fields. It is an emotional art form that requires patience, strong dedication and perseverance. Music has the ability to touch our hearts, yet can yield itself as a source of frustration at the same time. Professional performing aids me in my teaching process, as it transcends the subtleties of effective music making to my students.  My own abilities and experiences as a performer give me the foundation and knowledge necessary to be a successful teacher.  Elements such as patience, creativity, knowledge and expertise are only part of the complete picture.  I also believe it is important to allow students to express their own musical thoughts and ideas and to achieve their own aesthetic experiences with me as their guide.  Part of the teaching process is sharing my knowledge and the other part is encouraging students to believe in themselves and to go out into the world feeling confident and accomplished.


Student Testimonials

I was a senior when Dr. Minor began her career at James Madison University and my passion for music and practicing was waning. I feared the uncertainties of what to do after graduation and the challenges of professional and graduate school auditions. Those fears and low motivation were short lived. Dr. Minor not only provided a great bridge to my graduate work, she helped me find innovative ways to practice and we experimented with creative musical ideas to make a piece my own, rekindling my desire to play. In practicing technical aspects of a piece or excerpt, she urged me to find new ways to play the same passage via rhythmic modulation, so my technique was continually challenged and improving. She pushed me to think beyond technical mastery, to find out what I wanted to say to the audience through the music. She asked me what I was envisioning when I performed a piece and whether I was actively portraying that image to the audience through my playing. As I travel the country as a professional clarinetist, I hear Dr. Minor mentioned often and I am reminded that her caring and inventive teaching helped me be the player I am today.

SSG John Blair, B.M. Class of 2002    
Clarinetist, United States Army Field Band


As an undergraduate student at James Madison University, I was fortunate enough to fall into studies with Dr. Janice L. Minor. Dr. Minor joined the faculty after my first year and what I soon discovered was that I inherited a teacher who had tremendous commitment to her students and her teaching. Dr. Minor brought both a warm, inviting demeanor and a creative mind towards problem solving. Her own playing is beautiful, but it’s also unique and shaped by a variety of influences in her studies. I believe this is instrumental in her teaching, as she is able to approach problems from a variety of angles and is not restricted by one particular method. I distinctly remember the various techniques she used or invented to help me work out my fundamental problems that threatened to damage my progress. During my time studying with Dr. Minor, I always felt confident that I was in good hands. When it came time to move on and further my education, she was instrumental in directing me to places where I could succeed. At later points in my education and career, Dr. Minor always generously gave her time and advice to the challenges and decisions I faced. Now, years later, I’m frequently surprised by the number of times that I’ve referenced her teaching in my own practicing and performance. Tips or musical suggestions that I may have filed away often prove useful not only for my playing, but in my own teaching as well. For that, I find myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to learn from her.

Daniel Frazelle, B.M. Class of 2004 
Clarinetist, Musician 1st Class, United States Navy Band


Having completed my undergraduate degree at JMU, I am fortunate enough to have worked with Dr. Minor. Her lessons go above and beyond her studio doors as she fulfills the role of educator and mentor to all of her students. Dr. Minor is a dedicated teacher and musician whose persistence and excellence in her own career is both motivational and encouraging to her students. She teaches by example, showing her students exactly what hard work and perseverance can achieve. Her performances are passionate and inspiring, demonstrating the highest levels of technique and musicality. She gives all of her time to helping each individual. Her patience and understanding allow her students to excel in ways that they themselves hadn’t imagined. Whenever a task seemed unattainable or a technique too advanced, Dr. Minor was there with new and creative ways to make it possible. She made me work and she pushed me, however she was there helping me through it the entire time. Her faith and confidence in me gave me the encouragement I needed to succeed. My time at JMU was shaped by the time spent and the lessons learned in those studio doors. Even after my studies with her, Dr. Minor has continued to be a mentor to me, offering me advice and guidance whenever I need it.

Dr. Anastasia Christofakis B.M. Class of 2008
Clarinetist, Civic Orchestra of Chicago: Training Orchestra to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2009-2010)
Visiting Professor of Clarinet-James Madison University (2015-2016)


I attribute much of my success as a musician and educator to Dr. Janice L. Minor at James Madison University. During my undergraduate studies in music education, Dr. Minor provided detailed instruction and was always able to clearly demonstrate what she asked of me.  She brought in meaningful guest artists to perform for us, and I was always inspired after each of Dr. Minor’s faculty performances. She maintained high standards for all students in her studio, and I felt challenged as much as the performance majors. Dr. Minor is uniquely able to identify the importance of musicianship with her education students because of her lengthy experience working in the public school system. I will never forget Dr. Minor saying to me, “You can only be as good a music teacher as you are a musician”, and that has stuck with me permanently. As a public school teacher, I continue to play my instrument every day for my students, whether it is to demonstrate centered tone production, style/articulation, or play a student’s musical line. I remember Dr. Minor’s advice from her “Clarinet 101: Basic Fundamental Skills” presentation at the Midwest Clinic, and as a result I am able to establish good habits with my beginners every day. Dr. Minor continues to offer support to me, even years after graduation.  I feel very fortunate to have studied with her.

Brittany Knight B.M. Class of 2009   
Band Director, Cobb County Georgia
Clarinetist, Cobb Wind Symphony


I am an alumnus of the clarinet studio of Dr. Janice L. Minor currently completing my Masters Degree in Clarinet Performance at the University of Michigan. It was an extreme honor and privilege to study with Dr. Minor for my four years at James Madison University. She was the most supportive and encouraging mentor I could have hoped to have. Never was there a moment when Dr. Minor was not inspiring and motivating me to be the best musician I could be. She cultivated my musical sensitivity and expressiveness and shaped me into the clarinetist that I am today, providing me with all the necessary tools for me to play and to teach the clarinet with great efficiency and passion. Beyond JMU I have kept in contact with Dr. Minor, updating her on all of my achievements and experiences.  I will always consider her one of my primary mentors as well as a close friend, and I will always be grateful for her years of dedication and passion for teaching and performing.

Steven Hildebrand, B.M. Class of 2010
Music Performance
M.M. Graduate Student, University of Michigan


Working with Dr. Minor was the highlight of my JMU experience. The clarinet studio environment is much like Dr. Minor herself: supportive, warm, and nurturing. Every student in the studio is held to high standards, and Dr. Minor guides every student to reach his or her potential as a performer and a teacher. She uses clear, illustrative explanations to help students not only correct, but understand the solutions to playing problems, giving us the knowledge to help our own clarinet students in the future. I use many of her descriptive phrases in my own teaching because they are quick and effective, even with beginners. In addition to being a wonderful professor, Dr. Minor is truly an amazing performer whom I was privileged to hear in several recitals and concerts throughout my two years at JMU. She is actively involved in the clarinet community, and her connections continue to provide the studio with the opportunity to work with outstanding guest artists. Dr. Minor is a passionate, caring, dedicated teacher who has truly been an inspiration to me as both a musician and a music educator. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to call her my professor and mentor.

Jaclyn Bryant, M.M. Clarinet Performance, Class of 2010
Band and Orchestra Director    
Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Maryland


Being given the opportunity of studying with Dr. Minor during my undergraduate career has certainly been the highlight of my musical education, and has made me the musician and educator that I am today. Dr. Minor is both a passionate musician and teacher, who cares for each and every one of her students’ musical and personal growth. Her virtuosic clarinet performances exhibit her complete mastery of the clarinet as well as her ardor for performing.  Playing with her both in lessons and in public is always a wonderful experience that I have learned much from. She has been a brilliant teacher and mentor to me, and I still seek her guidance and advice. Dr. Minor is an extremely well-respected educator and her compassion for her students is easy to see. She instills a superb work ethic in all of her students and encourages them far beyond their former potentials. Each lesson with Dr. Minor is invaluable because she gives students’ both unique and essential perspectives on all repertoire and materials covered.  She provides students with the tools necessary to navigate any given musical landscape. It has been an honor to work with Dr. Minor in the capacity that I have, and I truly appreciate all that she has done for me.

Siobhan Dowen, B.M. Class of 2010
Band Director   
Floyd T. Binns Middle School, Orange County, Virginia


I have known Dr. Janice Minor for many years. I first worked with her during a Summer Band Camp Master Class at James Madison University while I was a high school student. She was generously informative about clarinet equipment and resources and helped me create the setup that I needed to be successful. I studied with Dr. Minor at James Madison University for four years and could not have asked for a more caring and knowledgable mentor. Dr. Minor gives students all of the tools and knowledge they need and knows just when to push them to the next level. I feel lucky to have been able to work with such a brilliant performer and teacher.

Timothy Loman, B.M. Class of 2012
Band Director    
Magnavista High School, Martinsville, Virginia


I earned a B.M. in clarinet performance under Dr. Janice Minor at James Madison University. I studied with Dr. Minor for four years and made tremendous strides in my overall musicianship. It shocks me how much learning can happen in the span of a few years with the right instructor. There were forever new concepts communicated in my lessons with Dr. Minor, and they always arrived when I thought I was starting to master the previous ones. Coming from high school having studied with several other teachers, I was apprehensive about the experience of studying with a college professor at first. I had questions: Will we get along? Will I be able to meet expectations every week? Will I learn more than just the same concept over and over again? However, despite my unknowing fears, I found Dr. Minor to be a more than capable teacher as well as a kind and gentle guide. For all I’ve accomplished at JMU as a successful clarinetist, I must always give credit to Dr. Minor for continually challenging me. I must thank her for analyzing every last aspect of my playing, so that I might become a better musician each year. And because of her instruction and guidance, I am.

Nikolai Stem, B.M. Class of 2013
Music Performance    
M.M. Graduate Student, Northwestern University


I would not be the musician I am today without the help of Dr. Janice Minor. The years I have studied in her studio have been the most musically enriching years of my life. Dr. Minor is a tremendously talented musician and educator who is willing to share her time and talent with every student. She is able to connect with each of her students personally and has an innate ability to come up with new creative techniques that improve my musicianship. Dr. Minor always sets high standards for her students to help them reach their potential and be the best musician they can be. She has helped me improve my technical ability and has boosted my confidence as a performer. I truly appreciate her coaching and I have become a better person and musician because of it.

Sarah Wilson, B.M. Class of 2013
Band Director
Stuarts Draft High School, Stuarts Draft, Virginia


I studied with Dr. Janice Minor while earning my Masters in Clarinet Performance at James Madison University. During the years I worked with her, I had continual progress. She is a wonderfully talented clarinetist and teacher, and a warm, caring person who is interested in your growth as a performer, educator, and person. Dr. Minor’s students thrive due to the nurturing relationship she has with the studio. (But she’s not afraid to put her foot down if a student is not meeting her high, but reasonable standards!)  Her “tried and true” methods work for her students, and she is always willing to do whatever each of us needs to become successful clarinetists and people.  I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to work with and learn from such a brilliant clarinetist and inspiring teacher.

Sarah Beatrez, M.M. Clarinet Performance Class of 2014
Band Director/Clarinet Instructor
Hancock and Mills Middle Schools, Sandusky, Ohio


Throughout my four years at James Madison University, I have had the privilege of studying under the tutelage of Dr. Janice Minor and I can confidently say that she has been one of my most influential mentors. I could not have asked for a more supportive educator and it has been one of the highlights of my musical career to study with her. Dr. Minor is always willing to help her students and consistently goes above and beyond her job description to ensure that her students have the tools they need to achieve their goals. My studies with Dr. Minor have broadened my musical scope in ways that I could not have imagined after leaving high school. Dr. Minor has an incredible knowledge of clarinet pedagogy and she always has an answer when approached with a question, whether it is musical or personal. In addition, her teaching has simultaneously helped to improve my understanding of broad musical concepts, but has also narrowed my vision to focus on the nuance of my performance. When I committed to attending James Madison University I knew I would be receiving an excellent education, but I had no idea the impact that Dr. Janice Minor would have on me as a musician and as a music educator.

Taylor Cardwell, B.M. Class of 2013
Band Director
Rodney E. Thompson Middle School, Stafford County, Virginia


Working with Dr. Minor over the past four years has been a wonderful experience. Dr. Minor is a great musician and has a ton of knowledge about the clarinet that she passes on to all of her students. I sound like a completely new clarinetist thanks to all of the work she has done with me on clarinet fundamentals and technique. She provides very effective instruction and feedback and knows how to make things instantly sound better. She is also a very nice person to work with. She always comes into lessons with a positive attitude, and is extremely supportive and caring with me and other students. I always feel comfortable going to Dr. Minor whenever I need help, even when it has nothing to do with music and I just need someone to talk to. It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with Dr. Minor for my fours years at JMU. She has given me so much and has prepared well for all my future endeavors. I owe my many achievements at JMU and in life to Dr. Minor.

Anthony Poehailos, B.M. JMU Valedictorian Class of 2015
Music Performance/Music Education
M.M. Graduate Student, Penn State University


I have loved my clarinet studies with Dr. Janice Minor and could not be more appreciative of the instruction she has provided me. Dr. Minor has taught and reconstructed my fundamental techniques in a clear, concise, and positive manner. She was patient while I was learning new skills but also provided me with the demonstration and instruction necessary to progress in a short amount of time. Dr. Minor is an incredible performer who certainly practices everything she preaches. She is very creative and finds ways to simplify the material so that each of her students obtains a complete understanding of what is being taught. Dr. Minor cares and appreciates all of her students, making us feel “at home” within the JMU School of Music. In just a short amount of time, I have become a more confident musician and person due to the education I have received from Dr. Minor.

Shannon Light, Class of 2016
Senior, Music Education, James Madison University


Dr. Minor sees the potential in all of her students have and pushes us to be as good as we can possibly be. Her instruction exponentially improved my skills in a short amount of time and I sound like a completely different player. There’s nothing that she misses when it comes to correcting technique or mistakes, and she always provides explanations and demonstrations to make the change relevant and easier to understand. But what’s most important to me that she’s not just a great teacher but a great person as well. Dr. Minor is always supportive, caring, and encouraging, especially when she pushes us hard, and she cares about all of her students as people as well as musicians. I’ve grown so much in my years with her, and I’m am so grateful for Dr. Minor’s tutelage.

Emily Swope, Class of 2017
Junior, Music Education, James Madison University