Teaching Artist

Photograph of John Paul Sharp

Creative Professional, Leader and Educator
Email: me@johnpaulsharp.com
John Paul Sharp

What moves and inspires me to be great are all the people I connect with. I love to lift people up by showing them how to access all the different forms of communication and expression available. I am most satisfied helping people and watching them succeed over time. Telling stories is the best, most humanistic way to solve problems and I enjoy facilitating that kind of learning experience, whether one-on-one, or in groups. Active listening is my strategic approach to making others feel heard and valued. I believe a constructive attitude will get you much farther than a strictly positive or negative mode of thinking. I advocate for finding fun and innovative solutions to seemingly negative problems.


Writers and Actors Reading and Performing (WARP) Theatre
Creative Director, June 2015 – Present
Jason Dooley and I took leadership over Writers and Actors Reading and Performing Theatre. We are currently working towards 501c3 status. WARP Theatre has existed for nearly 20 years as an outlet for a variety of writers and actors from diverse backgrounds. We maintain a safe place for anyone to explore the craft of theatre. With biannual showcases of selected new works, writers and actors get the opportunity to perform in front of many live audiences. We work to increase awareness of societal issues and underrepresented communities who struggle to be heard.

Central Co-op dba Madison Market
Deli Lead, August 2014 – Present
Working several aspects of a cooperative grocery store: barista, deli, cashier, customer service, wellness, and stocking. I am continuously learning about societal issues surrounding food and working with others to create better food choices. Plus, free samples of fabulous deli food.

University of Colorado Denver
Lecturer, July 2013 – Present
Teaching Creative Designs for Instructional Materials at the Information and Learning Technologies program under the School of Education and Human Development.

Self-Employed Voice Professional
Voice Instructor, Coach, May 2012 – Present
I teach in-home private voice lesson to students of varying backgrounds.

Copious Love Productions
Actor, Writer, Director, Organizer September 2011 – June 2015
I have been involved in many aspects of theater production with Copious Love. I act with them, organize events for them, and write and direct shows with them. I have taken a great deal of leadership in this organization and am an extremely involved member.


University of Colorado at Denver
M.A. Informational Learning Technologies, Online Learning and Educational Psychology, 2010 – 2013
Outstanding Graduate in the Department of Information and Learning Technologies Outstanding Graduate in theSchool of Education and Human Development

University of Colorado Denver
Bachelor of Science, Vocal Performance, 2005 – 2009
Film composing, vocal arranging, producing and promoting my own shows, learning how to sing.

My Teaching Philosophy
I teach a variety of subjects in different fields and teaching settings (e.g., online, one-on-one, groups small and large, corporate, and nonprofit): food and spirits safety and service operations, cooperative work culture, academic writing, creative writing, instructional design, design principles, adult education, songwriting, vocal performance, acting, and presenting.

Everyone brings value, investment, and stakes to learning.
In every instance of learning, every person has one or more useful expertise to employ. To discover these fields of knowledge, the trick is to create a space for which every individual feels comfortable, recognized, and valued for who they are and all the places they’ve been to before arriving to the present moment. Most importantly, as an educator, I am coming to the table with knowledge to deliver, but I am there to learn from my students as much as they are to learn from me. Knowing that, I have concluded everyone has real stakes in every learning environment. Often hidden, we all have investment in each other participating in a genuine way. When I’m teaching graduate students creative designs for instructional materials, I often encounter students who are far better experts than I am at a multitude of fields related to my course. Learning from them makes me a better teacher for my next students because I’m passing it on.

Critical thinking skills are the ultimate defense against misinformation.
We have yet to witness how technology has ultimately affected young people and society-at-large, but in this modern age, one issue facing us has been too much information. We are grappling with too much misleading, outdated, and outright false information. It’s harder than ever before to accurately and consciously filter the massive amounts of information we receive every day. As a teacher, I feel my duty is to empower and inspire students to understand, recognize, and practice metacognition. How do you know what you know? Retrace your steps. Where did you learn this?  From who? Are they a credible source? How do you know that? Seemingly simple statements are great to ‘unpack’ because we create an opportunity to see how much external influence plays a part in our quest for learning. When teaching students how to sing, I often encountered preconceptions about what it means to be a ‘good singer.’  By asking similar questions to them, we discovered how misconceptions were influenced by what popular music, television, and film depicted as what a ‘good singer’ is. Singing is the expression of the human voice; singing is not about good or bad. A good singer is someone who sings regularly.

Make use of all the available communication methods.
People are diverse. We absorb information differently.  We communicate differently. We have different styles.  What I’ve learned as a teacher is to be available in whatever way is most comfortable and advantageous for my students. When teaching courses online, I learned how speaking with students one-on-one in the first week of class can be crucial to their achieving success in the course. I require students to make use of audio, video, and text to communicate their work, but I never ask them to do something I couldn’t do myself, so I always have examples made by myself and former students. I learned how class management issues can be easily and quickly resolved with a text message and more difficultly addressed through time-consuming, time-delaying, and drawn-out emails. Be open to the methods available, but also be thoughtful and aware of boundaries and personal space.  Use communication methods strategically and advantageously, often through trial-and-error.

Don’t tell people what and how to do something, show-and-tell them.
Most students, and people in general, don’t like to be told what to do because they want to learn for themselves, make their own decisions, and take ownership over their experiences in life. Therefore, I try not to tell my students what or how to do anything. Instead, I tell them stories about people who did the things I want them to do and how I want them to do it. I show them how that experience went for the person or people and the ultimate results they gained. Whenever I can, I tell this story with mixed-media, providing direct examples of what I expect from them.

Perfectionism is the ruination of all things potentially great.
Going back to the possible definition of what ‘good’ means, one of the greatest lessons I learn as a teacher is to help my students avoid perfection whenever they can. Perfection creates anxiety. Perfection keeps people from taking risks and discovering all they are capable of. Sometimes, perfection can be so dastardly, students fail to produce anything at all. Perfection achieved, in my opinion, is lifeless and boring. I want my students to grow and have the confidence to create, express, influence, motivate, and make the world a better place. There is no better example than in singing, when they deliver a terrible performance because they are terrified of others seeing them make mistakes. Time shows mistakes are often necessary for improvement and, therefore, shouldn’t have the connotation of being ‘bad.’ The only thing bad, to me, is perfectionism.

Samples of Work as a Teaching Artist

Leighlia (2005)

I wrote this song about my cat Leighlia and later used it as a song in her memory.

This Heavy Life (2009)

I was commissioned to write an “avant garde” vocal piece about global issues and healing. I wrote a song from the perspective of a marginalized man living in jail for life.

Hitmaker Audition (2010)

This audition video gives both a wide diversity of my songwriting, but also says a great deal about me and who I’ve been as a songwriter.

Gender Self-Acceptance and Happiness (2010)

I wrote a song to teach my colleagues about gender self-acceptance and students’ well-being and put a cute video together with a classmate to do it. It’s out-there, but fun.

Using an Image to Write a Song (2011)

In my graduate degree, I had a lot of opportunities to access my musical side through educational instruction. This video describes the process of creating a song out of the inspiration of an image.

Songwriters of Catan (2012) – http://www.johnpaulsharp.com/entries/songwriting/songwritersofcatan.pdf
I modified the board game Settlers of Catan to teach basic fundamentals of building a song with choruses, bridges, verses, etc. The point is to inspire students that you can create any song any old way you want to, but there are names for common song structures.

Total Family Massage (2013) (featurette highlights aspects of confessional songwriting)
“Christmas is for Jesus!”

This is a song from the three-act musical I wrote about my real family relationships. Writing, producing, and performing this show changed my life completely, for the better.

Vocal Warmup Series (2016)

I took the opportunity to teach my graduate students some basic vocal warmup exercises. I think it was particularly fun because they were there to learn instructional design, but these techniques are useful for anyone whose speaking voice is a large part of their work-life.

Entropy (2017)

My nonprofit theatre organization wanted a mini-musical for their Fall 2017 showcase, so I wrote and recorded a digital musical about a sunflower-like goddess who has a vision for the end of her world.