Beyond Boundaries


The FSPA Teaching Approach was first developed in the early 1990’s. As the school grew, faculty and staff were increasingly focused on finding the most effective ways to teach young musicians and dancers. After significant research in student achievement, and with the help of experts in the field, they developed Beyond Boundaries. Over the years since, additional research has led to some tweaking. ..It’s definitely a “work in progress”.

All FSPA faculty members participate in a workshop about Beyond Boundaries, and have access to mentoring and additional professional development. Workshops are given annually for FSPA families and the community.

Beyond Boundaries Basics

  • Provide a safe, caring, discovery-based environment
  • Insure student needs for optimal learning (Self-Determination Theory):

      Autonomy – “I am the origin of decisions that affect me.”

      Relatedness – “I am part of a community.  What I do affects others.”

      Competence – “I relish a challenge as long as I see potential for success.”

Teacher as “Guide from the Side”

FSPA instructors are moving from a teacher—directed to a teacher-guided/student-centered teaching model. They encourage students to set individual goals and be responsible for achieving them.  In general, instructors

  • Talk less
  • Ask more – questions provide an opportunity for the student to think carefully about what they are doing. They take this skill home where their practice becomes more productive.
  • Encourage students to ask questions.
  • Use non-judgmental descriptive feedback – sentences begin with “I noticed….” or “I heard…”rather than “That was great” or “That was awful…do it again”. 

The Beyond Boundaries approach has shown significant results. Student achievement is consistent with or surpasses previous achievement levels. Students are more active, goal-oriented and responsible learners. When they go on to pursue music and/or dance at the college level, not all choose performance programs. Many choose related fields such as choreography, arts education, arts administration, and sound engineering.

For more information about Beyond Boundaries, please contact Davin Pierson Torre, FSPA Director at 810-237-3120.


Major funding for the Flint Institute of Music is provided by
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Learn more at