In addition to his contributions to the music world as a composer and performer, Allan has made a significant impact as an educator. This is evident in both his private teaching in his Upper Westside studio and his work in the New York City public schools as a guitar coordinator and curriculum developer for the Midori and Friends Foundation. At the core of Allan’s educational philosophy is a belief that, whether the student is intent on pursuing a career in music or merely studying music as an avocation, the study of music is a discipline that can enhance many areas of an individual’s life. It is one of those rare pursuits that, in its optimal form, combines the intellectual with the intuitive, spiritual and emotional side of human nature. In addition to this, music possesses a social nature that has a bonding effect, both in areas of performance and appreciation. Allan incorporates all of this in his educational pursuits.
Allan’s studio on the Upper Westside has been a nurturing place for many guitarists, whether they be absolute beginners or seasoned players wanting to expand their musical ability. Allan teaches students of all ages and abilities, in the absolute belief that the study of music can benefit all people at any point in their development. Allan’s approach to teaching focuses on all the basic disciplines of music: technique, rhythm, harmony and theory, ear training, reading and improvisation. Using much of his own material along with some of the established methods and existing musical material (songs and tunes), Allan tailors the course of study to the interests and needs of the particular student, thereby giving him/her the tools necessary to be able to play and create the music of choice. Whether the student’s interests lie in the area of rock, blues, folk or jazz, he/she achieves a deeper knowledge of the guitar and music through this thorough and enjoyable study.
In his capacity as ‘guitar coordinator’ for the Midori and Friends Foundation, Allan developed a curriculum for classroom guitar instruction, utilizing a concept, which he calls the ‘guitar orchestra’. As a way of dealing with the challenges of teaching guitar to classes of 20+ fourth or fifth graders, such as the varied abilities and learning speeds of the students and the slower pace necessitated by teaching such a large class, Allan developed a curriculum based on the idea of the ‘guitar orchestra’. The basis of this curriculum is the idea of layered instruction, where the students can be divided up and assigned parts according to their abilities and aptitudes. This method also enables the teacher to teach several skills simultaneously. For instance, a lesson in rhythmic values can address quarter notes, whole notes and varied rhythms simultaneously. Furthermore, as the orchestra can be seen as a microcosm of society, with the demand made upon the individual to blend sonically and contribute in a positive way, as well as to develop a positive view of authority (the teacher or conductor), this model gives the students an opportunity for positive social interaction, an experience that is so valuable at this early age