TIMOTHY SULLIVAN trsullivan at sympatico.ca
Thu Mar 26 18:51:12 PDT 2009

I will make some blunt statements regarding both teaching and creating art:
1. There is no reason to believe that an accomplished artist, regardless of discipline,has the ability to teach;2. There is no reason to believe that an accomplished teacher, regardless of discipline,has the ability to create art;3. There is reason to believe that an accomplished artist, who is also a trained teacher,or an accomplished teacher, who is also a trained artist, will have the ability to bothteach and create art.
The stance that artists can teach, simply because they are recognised as artists,is both arrogant and naive, as is the position that creating "art" can be taught byany qualified teacher.
University search committees look for accomplished artists, scientists, etc., but do not seek professors that have studied pedagogy, and I believe that this is a major failing. Many is the University course that fails the student because the professor is unable to TEACH. The hierarchy among universities is that "research" universities are superior to "teaching"universities. One seeks a teaching position in order to advance to a tenured professorshipwhere so that one no longer has to teach. What was the pretence of any importance attachedto teaching in the first place in such an attitude?
Studio artists replicate in others what they know and can do, they tend to mould theirstudents to their own interpretations, skill sets, philosophy, and so on. This may be doneentirely unconsciously, but given that the artist is an untrained teacher, he or she may have nopedagogic skills with which to avoid such an outcome. The application of "pedagogy" is absent here. The studio composer who teaches is similar in this  regard. They tend to pass along what they do know along with what they do not know, in their techniques, predilections, and often, prejudices.
Pedagogy is the craft of teaching. It is, I believe, a craft that should be learned/practisedby any/all those who would present themselves professionally as teachers, whether of piano, composition, music theory, music education or any other discipline.
Composition is both craft and art. The Craft involves much more than melody writing, counterpoint or orchestration, and the Art involves much more than analysis, imitation and experiment. Above all, the TEACHING of composition requires someone who is both artist and teacher, who can organise, integrate and elucidate a course of instructionalexperience for the student that systematically develops craft whilst scaffolding artisticexpression. This is indeed rare. For most students this is very much a "hit and miss" process,with many of the gaps that remain after the "Bachelor" or "Masters" degree, having to be filled in (or not) through self-study and through fortuitous discovery once they begin to "teach"others themselves.
Do not denigrate "pedagogy". Do not relegate it to "music education" or "music educators",lest you expose your own ignorance. Those who can teach, do, those who cannot, shouldnot.
Dr. Timothy SullivanComposer and TeacherToronto. 

Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 16:32:51 -0400
From: siskinpa at potsdam.edu
To: davidgstephenson at gmail.com; smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] COMPOSITION PEDAGOGY

Hi David:  Your questions conflate a number of separate issues, which could take many pages to unpack.  Here's some brief responses....

My original "I wonder" thought was whether composition teachers are trained in pedagogy regarding the music education sense of the word.  
I'm not sure that you mean by "the music education sense of the word."  Most composers don't begin formal studies in composition until college (except for a few who are fortunate to have stumbled upon a teacher earlier in their training).  Most college teachers of music in any aspect of the field (except for music education) don't have training in pedagogy in the "music education sense of the word."  

Are teaching techniques instilled by composition teachers to future teachers of composition?  
This question begs a larger issue:  Most college-level studio teachers who train future performers (who will in turn become future studio teachers) don't specifically teach performance pedagogy within the context of their studio lessons.  Composition lessons are analogous to performance studio lessons in this regard.  The primary purpose of composition lessons isn't to teach pedagogy; it's to teach craft and creativity.  One can glean much about pedagogy from one's own teachers along the way, but performance and/or composition lessons rarely focus on pedagogy.

Can they communicate the best ways to teach someone how to write a fugue?  
What does this have to do with composition pedagogy?  It's more relevant to a course in counterpoint.  Of course, traditional tonal compositional techniques do play some role in the training of composers, but it's just one small portion of their training.  There's a wide spectrum of beliefs about the relationship between traditional theory and learning how to compose, with a large percentage of composers seeing little direct relationship between the two.  

What are some creative ways to teach orchestration so composers can learn to associate different instruments/families with different timbres.  
Most any music school has courses in Orchestration.  Of course, many composers learn this own their own, by score study and listening.  

In my opinion, more colleges need to include some form of composition pedagogy in their curricula.  
I teach at the Crane School of Music, one of the first and largest music educator training programs in the country.  I am also on our state-wide music education committee for composition programs in our public schools.  So, even though I have no background (or degrees) in music education per se (i.e. all of my majors were in composition/theory), I have a pretty good understanding of the current interest in teaching composition in public school curricula.  
My sense is that the whole purpose of including composition in music education in the public schools (and, by extension, in college core curricula) is NOT that we're trying to train more people to be composers.  Rather, studying composition is a way to develop better understanding of music in general through application, as well as creative problem solving, unlocking one's creative potential, etc.  So, while you're correct that more college programs for music educators need to include more training of composition pedagogy in their music ed programs, it's a different approach to composition pedagogy (with different end goals) than the type of pedagogy one might need if one was planning to teach college-level composition students who want to become professional composers.  

1. Who is responsible for teaching composers to teach composition--comp professors or music ed professors?  Comp professors can rightfully claim that it's their area of expertise.  Music ed professors are trained to help future teachers learn how to teach.  Does that include composition teachers?  Or, could it be a hybrid of both...a collaboration?  
See my responses above.  The same questions/distinctions apply to music performance studios, not just composition.  Should class piano (functional keyboard) be taught by the same people who teach piano studio for piano majors?  Should music ed professors who teach in the band track be giving the clarinet studio lessons to performance majors?   Why should composition studio be considered any differently?

2. Who should take this course--theory/comp majors and/or music ed majors?  
See my response above.

I hope that this answers some of your questions, and begins to unpack some of the issues that you conflated.  
 ...Paul**************************************************************Dr. Paul A. Siskind 								Home:Professor of Composition and Theory 				Sweet Child MusicThe Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam 		69 N. Main StreetPotsdam, NY  13676 								Norwood, NY  13668(315) 267-3241 									(315) 353-2389************************************************************** 
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