Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Welcome Message (January, 2014)

Welcome to all composition students in my class this semester, and welcome as always to other readers of this blog!

I really enjoy every course I teach, but I particularly like teaching Music 3100 (Intro to Composition) because I get to help people, who in most cases have never composed before, develop as composers.

There is a limit on what we can hope to achieve over a 12-week semester, but despite this, many of the students that have taken this course have shown substantial growth as composers. Some students begin the course unsure as to whether they lack sufficient "talent" to develop into good composers, and are surprised to discover by the end of the course that they do, in fact, have plenty of talent to go as far as they wish in composition, provided they put in the many hours of work to get there.

What many people call talent is, I think, often the result of a lot of hard work.

Here are a couple of posts on this topic that may interest you:

I am looking forward to working with you, hearing your music, and reading your blog comments.

Since our first project of the course involves writing for piano (as do most subsequent projects), you may wish to read the post I wrote on this topic, which I just revised yesterday:

Please visit this site regularly to read and comment on posts that interest you. This blog is open to anyone; most of the comments are made by students in my courses, but anyone who wishes to comment is encouraged to do so.

Many of the people visiting this blog are not current or former students — when I checked the "Site meter" at the bottom of this page a few minutes ago, it showed recent visitors from Japan, Singapore, Germany, Holland, Britain, Sweden, Argentina, Guyana, Mexico, and many locations across the USA and Canada. Of course, a great many of these are likely to be web-crawler bots, or people who happened onto this site unintentionally, or people who, having visited this site, realize immediately that this is not what they were looking for, but be aware that any comments you make can be read by a fairly large and diverse audience.

Typically, the majority of comments on these blog posts are made by class members. This is because my students are required to comment on a 10 posts per semester.  Is this good pedagogy? Well, I think so, obviously, but (polite) comments from those who feel otherwise are always welcome! I believe discussion and debate can be a healthy and helpful thing, and my objective is to find ways of engendering it.

Two more things:
  1. I have written 136 posts so far, and you are free to comment on any of them (as well as on any new blogs that I write, of course); I receive E-mail notifications whenever a blog comment is made on any post, no matter how old it is. As an example, I started this blog back in August, 2008, with a 9-part series called Composition Issues, and I still receive notifications of comments on those posts from time to time.

  2. My blogging frequency has varied over the years: 36 posts in 2008, 45 in 2009, 24 in 2010, 4 in 2011 (ouch!), 14 in 2012, and 13 in 2013.  I am going to challenge myself to write ten blogs by early April, when this course finishes.  Let's see if I can keep this up…

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