I have almost
exactly the sort of teaching position I want to have. Of course there are
always things that could improve, the role I get to play right now is my
Julius Bahle in a
1930s paper divided composers into work-type composers and inspiration-type
composers. Though I’m not sure if I follow that specific dichotomy, I think
that there are two styles of composition instruction: the inspired and the
have some baggage that I don’t intend: I don’t mean that technical composers
aren’t inspired or vice versa. Rather, it’s about how each type approaches
Whatever that is.
In my case, I
approach composition from inspiration, and I’ve had students who have clearly
had technical instructors previously. They talk about their chord progression,
their form, how their 21st-century piece conforms to an 18th-century norm. And
then I ask them about energy-line analysis or how their piece evades
Do I think theory
and analysis is important? Very. Do I find it the most interesting part of the
creative process? Hardly.
This is the creative
side of my truth vs quality talk.
At NDSU, I don’t
teach theory—aside from Instrumental Arranging, I don’t do much typical theory
teaching. But I try to be active in our theory pedagogy conversations. I get to
play devil’s advocate for the curriculum. I get to have a bunch of random ideas
and challenge the status quo.
When students come
and ask about cadences and say that this chord meets their checklist of what a
cadence is, I counter with “does the music breathe here? No? Then it’s not a
Maybe not. But the technical isn’t all we teach in music schools.