Wednesday, January 30, 2002

One of my pet peeves is instructors who use the piano to play examples but don't have the proficiency to do it without numerous repeats and mistakes. If the purpose of playing an example is to allow your students to assimilate music through a different sense other than sight, you're doing them no service by giving them a haphazard or improvised performance. Instructors who don't have the ability to play on sight (which there's nothing wrong with at all) should either use recordings, throw up a MIDI, or even practice before class.

I remember a theory instructor from my pre-college years who assigned a short composition to the class. When everyone finished their diatonic wonders the following week, they brought them in, anxious to hear how they sounded for real, with the instructor sight-reading at the piano. What followed probably did not compel many of those budding composers to appreciate their own work.

The Composers' Forum starts up again today for the first time this semester. It's a bi-weekly gathering of composers and interested innocent bystanders where various composers can present their past works. The Forum was new last semester, and so far it's worked out pretty well, drawing some outside music majors as well as the usual contigent of graduate composers. I think it would help to expand the influence of the composition department if we also had class-applied composing classes, and informal round-table looks at works in progress.

"Nothing is more futile than theorizing about music. No doubt there are laws, mathematically strict laws, but these laws are not music; they are only its conditions." - Heinrich Heine

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