Teaching methods and education

Searching for expression

When my students compose, I prefer them to be mistaken if they must make mistakes, but to remain natural and free rather than wishing to appear other than what they are. I remember a day when Stravinsky was dining here. He took his neighbor at the table by the lapels, violently! His neighbor crushed, said to him, “But Monsieur Stravinsky, I don’t know why we’re talking like this, I agree with you.” And Strainvsky exclaimed furiously, “Yes, but not for the right reasons, so you are wrong.”

You can have good or bad reasons for searching. If you search in order to hide your inadequacy, you’re wrong. If you are looking in order to say what you really want to say, you’re right. And so it’s very important for a teacher first of all to let his pupil play as he wishes, write as he wishes; and then to be ruthless on questions of discipline.

— Nadia Boulanger

Mademoiselle: Conversations with Nadia Boulanger, ed. by Bruno Monsaingeon, trans. by Robyn Marsack. Cited in: O. Strunk, Source Readings in Music History: The Twentieth Century, New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1998, p.218.

By Greg

Australian composer and pianist