Dr. Hockenberry grew up in rural Virginia with limited access to excellent teaching on her instrument. She spent a significant portion of her advanced college degree years correcting bad habits formed in those early years of playing. This experience instilled within Rachel the drive to provide the highest quality education to any student, regardless of age, ability level, or socioeconomic status. She believes that a lack of resources is no excuse for bad teaching, and that every student who desires a high quality music education should be able to receive it.
Over the years, Dr. Hockenberry's studio has contained every type of player, from beginners to conservatory students at the doctoral level, from advanced high schoolers auditioning for music colleges to adult amateurs. She has enough experience correcting embouchure problems in young students to understand the importance of creating a solid foundation from day one of playing the horn, stopping bad habits before they become a hinderance to excellence.
Dr. Hockenberry's teaching philosophy is greatly influenced by El Sistema, a youth orchestra phenomenon founded in Venezuela in 1975. El Sistema's founder, Dr. José Antonio Abreu, believes that music education is a right and not a privilege. For forty years he has worked so that every young musician in Venezuela who wishes to receive it has access to free music education. By providing instruments and instruction at no cost to participants and creating "nucleos" (orchestral instruction hubs) in an easily accessible locations, Dr. Abreu continues to break down common worldwide access barriers to music education.
From 2011-2014, Rachel embarked on a journey traveling to El Sistema programs across the United States and in Venezuela to study the process of teaching horn players exclusively in a group setting. To learn more about her research and findings, visit the Tocar el Corno page.