bruce quaglia bruce.quaglia at utah.edu
Fri Mar 27 11:28:28 PDT 2009

Of course there is also the tried and true model of the autodidact, which I tend to believe is ultimately the case with successful composition "pedagogy" anyway. It's admittedly evasive to assert this, but since we have essentially moved in this thread from matters of strict technique to matters of creativity in a more effusive sense, it's hard for me not to think of Schoenberg asserting that his teachers were Mozart, Bach etc. Or Wuorinen whose teachers were arguably Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Wolpe and....

While I agree with David that strong teachers (of virtually anything) usually display that ability almost immediately and then simply refine it, I'm not sure any composer has ever been taught to have a voice and I'm usually suspicious of the common place assertion that a composition pedagogue can help their students "find" their voice. I don't think you can lose it or have it shown to you. But of course these are intractable matter of belief I suppose.

Schoenberg seems to have favored teaching basic technique and espousing a comprehensive and highly flexible vision of music that amounts to a theology of creativity. At least with his American students.


Bruce Quaglia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor (Lecturer)
University of Utah, School of Music

On 3/27/09 11:27 AM, "Brian Hulse" <operascore at yahoo.com> wrote:

I second David's point (below). My best composition teachers were extremely idiosyncratic people who, if placed side by side would hardly resemble each other. What they *do* have in common is also what I think great composers/improvisers have in common, which is that they have evolved a highly original and successful 'voice' of their own. I think of, for instance, Morris Rosenzweig (University of Utah) who somehow had the ability to pick out a problem or a blind spot in my composing process in really fundamental ways. But he would do it in cycles where I would basically be devastated and then, gradually, overcome the problem and regain my orientation. Then the process would start all over again. Another example is Marty Boykan (Brandeis), who led weekly marathon sessions with all the composers where he would sit at the piano, play through whatever each of us had written that week, and not only find the spot that was giving us trouble but articulate *why* it wasn't working.

These sorts of approaches to teaching seem to me to go against the textbook-education pedagogy model. It is much more like the master-disciple model that you get, for instance, in the traditional study of Indian Classical Music (before the rise of music schools in India). There is almost a complete absorbtion between the whole of the teacher's world and that of the student -- something that cannot be reduced to an abstract 'curriculum.'

* * * * * * * * *
Brian Hulse
Assistant Professor
College of William & Mary

--- On Fri, 3/27/09, David Froom <dfroom at smcm.edu> wrote:

For me, teaching was learned by using my best teachers as models.

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