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Your composition teacher / How you taught yourself to compose

I’m doing research on composition pedagogy for my bibliography and research class, and I wanted to get some general anecdotal data about how you were taught composition or how you taught yourself composition.

Answer the following questions. They will be broken up into three parts; first part is general questions about how you started, second part is for those who went one to study composition with a private teacher at a university or with a individual teacher, third part is for those who have never had a teacher.

 

General questions:

  1. When did you start studying or playing music?
  2. When did you start composing and why?
  3. How do you write your music (do you use notation software, hand written scores, or in sequencers such as DAW and samplers).

 

Composers who had teachers (i.e. you had a composition professor or a private teacher who taught you composition as oppose to music teachers that allowed you to compose. I have to be very specific):

  1. When did you begin taking composition lessons?
  2. Where you required to present a portfolio or some kind of evidence of your composition prior to beginning your lessons?
  3. Where did you take composition lessons (what university or what region of the world i.e. hometown or country)
  4. What were your composition lessons like (how were they structured, what did you do in them, how long were they)
  5. What was your composition teacher like (did they allow you to write what you want or did they give you assignments like “what in this style” or “write for this ensemble or instrumentation” etc.)
  6. Where your composition lessons a positive or negative experience?

 

Composers who are self-taught (i.e. you had no private or group lessons for specifically composition, aside from a composition based assignment in a music class or ensemble):

  1. Was the decision to go without a composition teacher a conscious decision or a decision out of circumstance? Explain?
  2. What are some of the challenges you have faced being self-taught?
  3. What do you believe some of the strengths are to being self-taught?
  4. What are some of the perceptions you have about taking composition lessons (what do you think it would be to take composition lessons)
  5. Do you think taking composition lessons would be a benefit or a detriment to your composition process? why?

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General questions:

 

1  When did you start studying or playing music?—I started "studying music," simply through listening, as my parents taught me, starting at age 4 to distinguish the compositions of famous composers, by hearing recordings or performances on radio and television:  Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Mozart, Haydn ...  I wasn't playing music until late grade school, middle school, high school:  recorder, clarinet, piano

2  When did you start composing and why? I thought I would enjoy composing in High School, and took an introductory composition course in 11th grade, Bach Four Part Harmony, essentially.  I found it a bit boring, and arbitrary, as well as needlessly abstract, and non-creative, at least as it was presented in this case (Now that I read Fux, I see that it didn't have to be taught that way; perhaps the class was just too large to get into in depth exchanges with the instructor that were satisfying).

3  How do you write your music (do you use notation software, hand written scores, or in sequencers such as DAW and samplers).   Now I simply produce the sound files, and any records of those files, such as piano rolls, generated scores, event lists, and so on.  

 

Composers who had teachers (i.e. you had a composition professor or a private teacher who taught you composition as oppose to music teachers that allowed you to compose. I have to be very specific):

 

1  When did you begin taking composition lessons? I had a composition teacher at the University who was himself a concert pianist, and composer, and student of Ferde Grofé; this was class instruction, which involved a great deal of listening to and studying specific pieces of classical music; the class also included instruction in Bach Four Part Harmony but, of course, more advanced than the type you would have in a high school class.  

2  Were you required to present a portfolio or some kind of evidence of your composition prior to beginning your lessons?  No.

3  Where did you take composition lessons (what university or what region of the world i.e. hometown or country).   This was in the United States of America, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

4  What were your composition lessons like (how were they structured, what did you do in them, how long were they).  These were standard length lessons, either two or three class hours per week, with lecture, some discussion, playing of musical pieces, presenting (for evaluation) very short exercises and pieces of music written for piano, in a strict four part harmonic style.

5  What was your composition teacher like (did they allow you to write what you want or did they give you assignments like “what in this style” or “write for this ensemble or instrumentation” etc.) It was always for one instrument—piano—and in one style, Bach Four Part.

6  Were your composition lessons a positive or negative experience? Mixed.  I liken it a bit to language acquisition.  You don't always enjoy learning all the rules, and memorizing and understanding them.  But afterwards, you are glad you did.   As I experienced it, however, I did not find the course work especially enjoyable, nor did I relate to it personally, in spite of my overwhelming love of classical music, and the acheivements of the great composers, esp. those I was enjoying at the time, on my own initiative, Prokofiev, Bartok, Shostakovich, Mahler, Bruckner, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, and many others. 

 

Composers who are self-taught (i.e. you had no private or group lessons for specifically composition, aside from a composition based assignment in a music class or ensemble):

 

[A note:  Although I did have "formal courses," in high school, and at the University level, these were only two in number.  And it was many decades later that I started over, so to speak, and self taught myself again, composing, this time with software, starting about 6 years ago.  So I am partly in category 1, and partly in the second group.  I think I have to stress this point.  I had all but forgotten about composing and lost interest, until I read James McHard's "The Future of Modern Music: A Philosophical Exploration of Modernist Music in the 20th Century and Beyond."  In 2009.  It was something of a revelation to me; a lighting bolt out of the blue, I could say.   It rekindled an earlier and strong interest I had had during the late 70's, in post-modern, avant-garde classical music; and it was around this time (in 1976) that I actually met Karlheinz Stockhausen, and spoke with him privately for a while, when he visited Washington D.C. and performed his work "Sirius" during the summer of that year in a planetarium.  What I learned from James McHard, reading his book in 2009-2010, was a kind of "philosophy" of music that I had not encountered before, but which helped me in terms of inspiration, and finding a coherent outlook and approach to musical composition.  This philosophy of music was contemporary, and was also essentially open minded enough to different styles and methods (ranging from Mahler and Janacek, up through Schoenberg and the serialists {and Ives and Varese}, up to the more post modern and avant-garde, such as Messiaen, Xenakis, Scelsi, Ligeti, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Stockhausen, Boulez, and Julio Estrada, to name a few), and the philosophy also emphasized "sound-based" methodologies that were specifically focused and practical, and possible of execution on software programs, like Logic Pro.]

 

So bearing that in mind, I answer the following questions, with very short replies:

 

 

 

1  Was the decision to go without a composition teacher a conscious decision or a decision out of circumstance? Explain? Basically a conscious one, since I found more satisfaction in English Literature, Aesthetics, Philosophy and Metaphysics, during that time. 

2  What are some of the challenges you have faced being self-taught?  It's hard to say, since I had found my formal education in music to be very dry and technical, uninspiring and non-creative.

3  What do you believe some of the strengths are to being self-taught?  This I found to be a great joy, since I felt myself to be creative, individually inspired, unconstrained and spontaneous, without an unnecessary reliance on rules that seemed overly stringent, if applied too rigorously. 

4  What are some of the perceptions you have about taking composition lessons (what do you think it would be to take composition lessons). No comment, other than what's said above.

5  Do you think taking composition lessons would be a benefit or a detriment to your composition process?   It depends very much on the individual relationship between the composition teacher and the student, I think.  The first has to know what to give, and the second has to learn to know what to gain, and how to make use of it.  I cite as examples of fruitful  relationships:  That between Schoenberg as teacher and Webern as student; that between Messiaen as teacher and Xenakis as student; between Shostakovich as teacher, and Tishchenko or Schnittke as students.   During my university years, in the four year college, and in graduate school, and while working on my Ph.D., I found excellent instructors, advisors and mentors in philosophy, and in literature and creative writing.  I never found one I could work well with in music and composition.  That may have just been a matter of luck or happenstance.

 

 

 

 

Hey there bob, What a coincidence,

 I started with a 5th grade school band.

I learned to play the Baritone horn, and after two years of weekly lessons

with Mr. Brusiloff, I got pretty good at my 'um pah pahs'. LOL

To this day, I swear one of my arms is longer than the other from

lugging that thing to school and back :>}}

From there I took a break and then started to teach myself to play the

guitar and then the piano. I studied heavily under the tutorage of the

reknowned team 'Hunt and Peck'. Have you heard of them?

I've never had any real ambition to be a composer.

I just enjoy being creative. For me, that is all that really matters.

It is simply 'fun' to take raw materials and make something of them.

I am not particularly gifted and will never be a virtuoso, but that is not

my interest either. I do it more for the personal challenge and enjoyment.

I have heard some extraordinary talent here and wonder how much of it can be

attributed to education and theory, and how much of it is just raw intuitive talent.

I do think that a formal education will aid anyone in the realm of writing down the score,

but not so much in creating the music to then score.  Apples and Oranges as they say.    RS


 
Bob Porter said:

General Answers

1. Following my older sister and brother, I joined the school band during the summer before 5th grade.

2.Almost right away, off and on. Why? That's the never ending question. 

3. Today I compose in notation software. It just makes sense for someone who grew up reading music.

Composers who had teachers,

1. College, senior year.

2. We had to have three years of theory first.

3. University of Redlands, School of Music, Redlands California.

4. The prerequisite theory classes included composing in various styles. And we had to passing grade in each composition to show we got the concepts. By the time students enrolled in composition, the class consisted of each of us (there were 6 of us) bringing in our own projects and having everyone and the teacher talk about them and make suggestions.

5. The composition teacher was also the head of the school of music. It was more like a masters' class in composition.

6. Definitely a positive experience.  

First and foremost - Congratulations Dr. Hughes!  I hope you get some time now to work on the things that you want to work on.

My responses are as follows:

General questions:

  1. I started in in 6th or 7th grade, playing in a church handbell choir – that is where I learned to read music. I moved on to saxophone during my junior year of high school. I branched out into other instruments after college -irish whistle, mandolin and related instruments, irish concertina, piano, and most recently drums. Aside from a semester in a high school “winds and percussion” group beginners class, all of my musical activity, including composition has been self taught.

  2. I had wanted to compose ever since grade school. I did not start, however, until I was in my mid 40s. It was my purchase of a DAW that opened the door to composition for me. I initially bought the DAW to play around with multi track recording of the various instruments that I play. I quickly discovered that the DAW had a basic on board orchestral VST and also several options for composing including note entry on a staff or direct recording through a keyboard interface. One day, I jotted down a little woodwind trio that did not sound half bad to my ears. I then started actively composing soon afterwards. Oddly enough, now that I have the ability to compose and produce rough recordings of my compositions, my interest in playing instruments has taken a back seat. After performing as part of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra for 20 years, I recently stepped to down to free up my limited time to focus more heavily on composition. So far no regrets.

  1. I compose using a DAW & VSTs and only use separate notation software when I need to produce a respectable looking score. My specific method varies – if I am writing something that is slow and “spacey” I will basically improvise and record the parts via the keyboard. If I want something more structured and more technical than my limited keyboard skills permit, I compose using the staff & note entry function of the DAW. I would say that 30% of my composition is done via improvisation on the keyboard and 70% is done via note entry.

 

Composers who had teachers 

  1. NA

  2. NA

  3. NA

  4. NA

  5. NA

  6. NA

 

Composers who are self-taught:

  1. My decision to go without a composition teacher was a decision out of circumstance. Music has always been a hobby but not a profession. Once college was done, between work and raising a family, I never had time to pursue any formal musical education.

  2. I would say that most of all, my lack of formal musical education has limited my ability to structure my pieces and to fully develop and draw out the musical ideas that I have. I have been able to learn enough theory for my purposes, but I believe that I would benefit from a better understanding of how to develop and structure a piece. Aside from that, I dont feel particularly limited or constrained by a lack of formal training.

  3. Being self taught, I have had the freedom to focus my attention on whatever aspects of music caught my attention and likewise had the freedom to experiment with ideas that may be considered “wrong” in a more formal setting. It is a double sided coin – on the one hand, I feel somewhat constrained in my ability to structure my pieces. On the other hand, I dont feel bound to observe specific conventions – in that regard, ignorance of the rules is bliss.

  1. A good number of my friends are formally trained musicians, a few of them have advanced degrees. For some of those folks (not all), it appears to me that much of the joy, wonderment and curiosity of music seems to be gone for them. Their approach seems to be strictly limited to the conventions that they learned, and their tolerance for anything outside of the norm is limited. I have always thought that to be a terrible shame and have thus been somewhat wary of formalized instruction. I would definitely benefit from learning more about the mechanics, but would probably chafe a bit when asked to compose something “in the style of.......”

  2. Overall, I do believe that I would benefit from composition lessons for the purposes of learning more about the mechanics (theory, structure, development, orchestration, etc).

The purpose of my research isn't to pit the two against each other. My research for this paper is about how to start composition lessons with complete novice composers and address the admission process for composers at the university level. 

The questions I ask to meant to gain a few things:

  • To track any trends in how composition was taught. Thats why I asked you when you took composition lessons. 
  • To see how composition professor taught their students and how it affected them later. 
  • To see what self taught composers think of taking lessons and if they feel they are missing someone or have an advantage. 

Im asking these questions because composition lessons are private and its hard to get any data on what lessons are like because many don't discuss what happens behind closed doors. 

Tyler, could you define and clarify what you mean by 'novice' at the

university level. I would think that it might mean something different

than 'at the grade school' level.

Also, I don't think that there is any reason that the 2 camps, so to speak,

need to be pitted against each other at all. For study purposes, ego is not

a relevant factor, is it?(this applies to many subjects)

I will also add; the internet has become a valuable 'tool' today and can serve

both 'camps' equally well- if you are disciplined and apply yourself.   RS

General questions:

  1. When did you start studying or playing music?  Age 7
  2. When did you start composing and why?  around age 13, as far as I can remember
  3. How do you write your music (do you use notation software, hand written scores, or in sequencers such as DAW and samplers).   Hand-written shorthand including note letters or chords, and symbols for times, whether on upbeat or downbeat, and handwritten descriptions for more subtle timing and details 

 

Composers who had teachers (i.e. you had a composition professor or a private teacher who taught you composition as oppose to music teachers that allowed you to compose. I have to be very specific):

  1. When did you begin taking composition lessons?   Fall of 2015
  2. Where you required to present a portfolio or some kind of evidence of your composition prior to beginning your lessons?  No, my instrument teacher happens to be a professional composer, and already knew me for 3 years for instrument and voice lessons.
  3. Where did you take composition lessons (what university or what region of the world i.e. hometown or country)  By skype from California.
  4. What were your composition lessons like (how were they structured, what did you do in them, how long were they) - One hour long, the teacher listens and then discusses the piece, gives suggestions, points out possible ways to strengthen weak points in the piece.
  5. What was your composition teacher like (did they allow you to write what you want or did they give you assignments like “what in this style” or “write for this ensemble or instrumentation” etc.).    Encourages me to write what I want, but at the same time requires me to have a very specific thought or concept behind every phrase, to tell a real story, as well as to 'let the instrument speak' as if its really telling the story and not just playing a score.  Before this teacher, I would always write in a more general, fuzzy, nonspecific way, more based on a mood.   The teacher also encourages me to develop and finish pieces, when I could never seem to do that before in a satisfying way.   
  6. Where your composition lessons a positive or negative experience?   Positive!

Tyler, thanks for asking these questions, very interesting.

General questions:
1.When did you start studying or playing music? 6th Grade Band. I played trumpet.
2.When did you start composing and why? Around the same time. After my mom died, I began to hear music in my head constantly, and when we performed band, orchestral, and chorus pieces, I would accidently start adding stuff wondering why didn't the composer write it this way?
3.How do you write your music (do you use notation software, hand written scores, or in sequencers such as DAW and samplers). Handwritten on staff paper, Finale, Cubase, and always on acoustic or electric, live instruments.

1.When did you begin taking composition lessons? From 1999-2005 with Dr. Meister of Appalachian State University.
2.Where you required to present a portfolio or some kind of evidence of your composition prior to beginning your lessons? Yes. We had to show that we knew how to use either Finale or Sibelius, and compose in different styles. Mine showed works such as a choral tonal piece in traditional "Bach" harmony with correct part writing, 12 tone melody, a piece for diminished 7th chords, a Celtic dance, and a piece called Bad Cabbage that uses those pitches and their transposition (I was using set-theory when I did not even know it existed, lol.)
3.Where did you take composition lessons (what university or what region of the world i.e. hometown or country) Appalachian State University's School of Music in Boone, North Carolina.
4.What were your composition lessons like (how were they structured, what did you do in them, how long were they) 30 minute to an hour private lesson once a week, the composition seminar for an hour every Friday with all of the composition majors. Dr. Meister taught us different modern techniques, then we wrote a piece on what he taught us. Each week we would show him the composition, and he would show us how to edit it and notate it properly and make sure "it worked" as a composition. On Fridays, we would share with other composition students and meet with professional composers and publishers who visited us.
5.What was your composition teacher like (did they allow you to write what you want or did they give you assignments like “what in this style” or “write for this ensemble or instrumentation” etc.) He was the most honest, brutal teacher/ person you would ever meet and I loved him for that, because if he said something was good you knew he was not lying. There came a point in my Senior since I was finishing composition assignments so quickly, he was like, "Well, what do you want to write now, lol?"
6.Where your composition lessons a positive or negative experience? It was very positive but only because I was very self-motivated, hard working, wanted to learn, and simply passionate about composing. In styles, Dr. Meister and I are completely different, but I feel as though we both inspired each other along the way. He would even say, "Hey Rodney, bring in your trumpet next week, I want you to try something." And he would even say stuff like, "Man, you got me wanting to write a piece for 12 triangles now!" And he, of course, took my style and showed me how to mature it and the new modern techniques opened up a whole new world of inspiration for me.

Requirements for each semester:
1.Complete 4 compositions.
2.Have 2 public performances from 2 different works.
3.Keep a contemporary listening log with a minimum of 10 compositions not previously heard.
4.30 minute private lesson once a week with the professor.
5.Attend composition seminar for an hour every Friday which gives you the chance to work with other student composers and talk with professional composers.
6.For your senior year, you must organize a complete hour long senior recital featuring a selection of your compositions.



Works to compose in this order from freshman year to senior year:
1.Compose a hymn for SATB with proper voice leading and chord progressions.
2.Compose a solo piano work and be able to explain how your work has a beginning, middle, and end.
3.Compose a work using one of the church modes (Instrumentation that I chose: TTBB and Strings.)
4.Compose a work for solo instrument using set-theory (Flugelhorn.)
5.Compose a song for solo voice and accompaniment. Make sure the words are from a poem that is public domain (Soprano, Piano, and Cello. Words that I used were William Blake’s “The Garden of Love.”)
6.Compose a song for solo voice and small ensemble. Make sure the words are from a poem that is public domain (Tenor, Celesta, Vibraphone, Marimba 1, Marimba 2, and cello. Words that I used were Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.”)
7. Compose a work using a twelve-tone technique (3 trumpets.)
8.Compose a work for a small ensemble of percussionists using a duration series of rhythmic patterns (3 percussionists and a duration series of 4, 1, 2, and 3.)
9.Compose a work for small ensemble using set-theory (Violin, Clarinet, Bassoon, Tuba, Congas, and Claves.)
10.Compose a work for large percussion ensemble.
11.Compose a groove piece for large percussion ensemble.
12.Compose a work using an original contemporary technique (Violin and Cello using fully diminished 7ths as my original technique that I came up with.)
13.Compose a work for full band.
14.Composer or arrange a work for marching band.
15.Compose a work which the harmony modulates every measure (Harpsichord.)
16.Compose a work with your own synthetic scale (Piano.)
17.Compose a work for full orchestra.
18.Compose a work for large brass ensemble.
19.Compose a work for programmed music that tells a story (Strings, Piano, and Gong.)
20.Compose a work for choir using a foreign language (SSAATB using Spanish.)
21.Compose a work for electronic music.
22.Compose an exotic work (String Quartet using Celtic style.)
23.Compose a work for found objects.
24.Compose the score for a movie scene that is public domain.
25.Compose a large scaled work longer than 30 minutes (Requiem for Orchestra, Organ, Piano, and SATB.)

Rodney, 

That sounds like an excellent 'program'! 

General questions:

1. When did you start studying or playing music?

I took piano lessons from age 7.  I stopped around the age of 18.  But I did not practice much in between (not a dedicated student).  As a result, the collection of my entire 11-year repertoire was quite limited.

2. When did you start composing and why?

I started composing 2 years ago.  Music just started coming into my head without provocation.

3. How do you write your music (do you use notation software, hand written scores, or in sequencers such as DAW and samplers).

 

Sometimes by hand, sometimes using notation software (Notion for iPad).

 

Composers who are self-taught (i.e. you had no private or group lessons for specifically composition, aside from a composition based assignment in a music class or ensemble).

1. Was the decision to go without a composition teacher a conscious decision or a decision out of circumstance? Explain?

Out of circumstance.  I spend most of my day analyzing and computing data (aside from a few escapist breaks on this forum).  Therefore, any hobby activities for me cannot be based on yet more analytical thought.  The left-side hemisphere of my brain won't take no more after the work day.

So, I am happy to have a hobby where I think through music.  But right now I have limited capacity to think about music. That's a personal circumstance.  Under ideal circumstances (different than my personal circumstances), I would think about music, i.e., I would learn about composition techniques (and many related things).  I've done this to a limited degree and only limited success, based on book suggestions made to me here in the forum (by Socrates, Stephen Lines, O.O., and others). 

2. What are some of the challenges you have faced being self-taught?

Difficulty with larger musical structures.  Right now, I rely on the "logical discourse" established by the melody lines to take me from start to finish of a piece.  Listening to great classical music I notice than in much of it, only some segments are "melodic discourses", and I don't have a name actually for the most of it, which is NOT melodic discourse.  I don't know how to compose that.  This is something I could learn if I took classes.  My intuition for it is also limited, because unfortunately I have not spent my life listening to classical music, I've listened mostly to popular music (which is typically very melodic).  I've only started listening to classical music after I joined this forum a year ago.  I love it now.

3. What do you believe some of the strengths are to being self-taught?

The mystery of it.  My experience is that melodies emerge in my mind that want to be written down.  Of course, I cannot justify attributing sentience to music, but that is what it feels like to me.  Some melodies that I've tried to ignore come back repeatedly and won't leave me alone until I give them some attention.  They either appear in full form (most or all of the piece just plays complete in my mind), or a fragment only.  In the latter case, it feels akin to finding a fragment of an artifact, where my job becomes that of reconstructing the whole artifact in a way consistent with the fragment, using aesthetic intuition and a kind of "logic" (in the sense that a melody can be felt to represent a logical discourse).  The quote from Sibelius that O.O. just posted has more than casual interest to me. 

4. What are some of the perceptions you have about taking composition lessons (what do you think it would be to take composition lessons)

There are probably many different teaching philosophies.  I have recently found books by Bruce Adolphe, and he's the kind of teacher I would like to have.  His emphasis, it seems to me, is on thinking in music first at least as much as thinking about music.

5. Do you think taking composition lessons would be a benefit or a detriment to your composition process? why?

A benefit.  Why?  Well, some reasons I can try to anticipate, some I can't without actually taking the lessons.  And the benefits are likely to depend entirely on the teacher and her or his methodology and person.  The reasons that I would anticipate are related to helping create larger structures that organize different melodies and non-melodic passages in meaningful ways, so that I am not entirely reliant on the melody lines to build the entire piece.

It absolutely was. If there was away to combine Appalachian State's music composition program with UCLA's scoring and electronic certificate, it would be close to perfect for an undergraduate degree.

gregorio X said:

Rodney, 

That sounds like an excellent 'program'! 

General questions:

1) I started playing / studying music around 13-14 when my childhood hatred of music somehow transformed into an intense driving interest.

2) I started composing around the same time (roughly around age 15) after hearing Beethoven's 6th symphony on a friend's new car stereo at the time, and being so utterly blown away that I decided I wanted to become a composer.

3) I started with pencil-and-paper, and lots of tinkering at the piano... but nowadays I use notation software (Lilypond) and a bunch of hand-written scripts to generate MIDI renderings. My goal, though, is to write for real performers.

I'm a composer who's self-taught, so I'll answer the second set of questions:

1) It was a matter of circumstances. When I was a kid my dad wanted to teach me piano but I hated music at the time and he gave up before I finished grade 1. By the time my interest was kindled, I was already too busy with school work and school-related activities and there was simply no time to add on a music class.

2) Challenges of being self-taught: no one to guide my learning to ensure an adequate general background in music covering all the basics; as a result I have large gaping holes in my musical knowledge where most people would already at least have learned some fundamentals.  One of the most challenging issues is being unable to sight-read a score, which has been a great hindrance oftentimes.

3) Strengths to being self-taught: being unconstrained by existing interpretations and theories of music allows me (and I believe others in similar circumstances) to rediscover things that may have been regarded as already done and over with, but with a new angle or insight into it. To explore things that might have been consciously or otherwise excluded from consideration because theory says it's a bad idea.  Being able to develop my "inner voice" without being deterred from a direction that a teacher might have discouraged from exploring, due to bias or theoretical grounds or other reasons.

4) When I was young and opinionated I used to think taking composition lessons would "kill" my inner creativity. Now that I'm older and more mellow, though, I realize that all it would have done would be to broaden my horizons... I didn't need to let it (or anything else) "kill" my inner creativity, whatever that means. But of course, a lot of this also depends on how the class is taught.  The prescriptive method of teaching prevalent in music (at least where I was from) probably would kill my creativity. But obviously that doesn't apply everywhere.

5) It depends on how it's taught. If it's taught in a prescriptive way it probably would be very detrimental. But if taught in a way of broadening my horizons, I think it would be very helpful indeed.  Prescriptive teaching can happen in any context -- a classical composition teacher insisting on following classical norms to the letter, or a modern composition teacher insisting that anything that sounds classical is not "modern enough", etc.. That would be utterly discouraging and extremely frustrating, and would easily turn me away from music altogether.  A more encouraging way of teaching would be to take a student's current output, whatever genre/style/etc it may be in, and provide constructive critique, suggest alternative avenues, interact with the student to determine the effect desired vs. what was actually achieved, and how to bridge the gap, etc., that would be extremely encouraging and helpful.  Of course, that also demands far more work on the part of the teachers, and while it's understandable that few would be willing to invest this kind of effort in a student, I also maintain that anything less is a disservice, and if one wishes to be a teacher (or music or otherwise!), that's the standard one ought to aim for.

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