top of page


Concrete Wall
Susie headshot by Nate 2.png

am a composer, keyboardist, and educator based in Durham, NC. In my teaching, I like to cultivate a supportive environment where students can feel safe making mistakes and trying out new things. I also like to implement interactive activities, so students can apply what they learned immediately to in-class activities. Check out my full bio for more info.

As a Ph.D. Candidate at Duke University, I have taught Introduction to Music Theory (22S, Link to Syllabus), Music Theory lab 1, diatonic harmony (21F, Link to Syllabus), and Theory lab 2, chromatic harmonyAdditionally, I have been the Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Composition, Counterpoint, and Introduction to Electronic Music at Duke University.

As a teaching artist at Synthase, I teach AP Music Theory Group Tutoring, Composition Lab, and private lessons on AP Music Theory, Composition, ABRSM Theory and Musicianship, and more.

Teaching Statement

As an educator, I believe that students gain the best learning experience through what I call a positive feedback loop, which is cultivated through:

  1. Frequent interactions between students and educators (to cultivate a sense of community and a feeling of safety within the community).

  2. Timely and ungraded feedback within the community (to promote conversations and encourage cross-references of what’s new with what was previously learned).

  3. Access to useful resources and tools (to ensure a guided place for students to utilize what is learned in their own music creation).


All of these are geared toward building a system that aims to make students feel valued, that what is learned is meaningful, and that they are in a supportive and resourceful place. The system essentially functions as a “loop” that promotes further momentum for the loop to spiral up and motivates students to pursue their musical goals.


Synthase is a perfect place to implement this positive feedback loop. Unlike a traditional high school or college, Synthase heavily focuses on creativity and has little institutional overhead. The heavy focus on creativity ensures that we, by nature, do less of what Freire calls “storing the deposits” (Freire 1970, 54) and do more to “transform the structure so [students] can become ‘beings for themselves’ (ibid., 55)”. Very little institutional overhead ensures that we have more leeway to practice what we deem truly valuable for the students and utilize what pedagogical methods we truly believe in. While I do believe that everything is meaningful, I’d still much rather give students the freedom to act on curiosity and explore certain topics at their own pace instead of forcing something on them because it is required.


I also enjoy the notion of being students’ allies, and together, we work toward something meaningful. I view the process of learning as the process of seeking meanings, and meanings (always plural) are something that emerges through negotiation. As Kull notes in “Quo Vadis semiotics” (Kull 2023), there would be no meaning if there is no contradiction: the contradiction is the source of freedom, and through the simultaneity of contradiction, we get to meanings, appear as simultaneity to be articulated by the learner. We are always simultaneously teacher and learner. By being an ally, I aim to push students further toward their music goal on this positive feedback loop through negotiation and without posting a threat.


As an educator, I value a positive learning environment, which encourages students to keep learning at their own pace on subjects that are meaningful to them for their current stage. At the same time, I value being students’ “teacher-learner” ally, and I strive to lead students further up on the spiral of the positive feedback loop through the negotiation of meanings.

Duke Teaching Statement - Link to PDF

bottom of page