Saturday, August 29, 2009

Teaching composers

Where has the time gone? As you might imagine, I don't get much spare time anytime these days, so I'm not a reliable blogger, sorry. What with work, family, running the house, other things, life runs away from me quite regularly.

This year I've had the opportunity to re-structure the composition curriculum where I teach. I am fairly happy with the results, particularly with setting composition projects (with prescribed parameters) for individual students at each level. However, each week we meet as a seminar class twice a week for 1 hour each meeting. A combined-level class is always a challenge: what can be taught to 1st years without being boring and repetitive to the 3rd years? What can be taught to the 3rd years without being over the heads of the 1st years? It isn't quite like a performance masterclass where everyone can learn from observing the student who is playing.

My most recent thoughts about dealing with the seminar is to run it as a three-year cycle on topics/composers/eras, so that in three years of a degree, a composition major would cover (in general terms) each topic regardless of what year they are in.

I'd be very interested in any advice on this, from a musical or pedagogical point of view. Or any alternative suggestions!

Thanks in advance...