My Beliefs About Teaching Music

As a teacher of music theory and composition, I am primarily concerned with the anatomy of music -- its skeletons, joints, structure, the cause and effect of sounds and patterns-- as all these factors contribute to the design of a work.

In my personal experience with music, I have come to believe that music is more than mere notes. It is what lies behind the notes that is significant. Fine musicians learn to see and hear between the lines to discover the artistic core of a work. As a teacher, my job is to lead my students toward an understanding of how the mechanics of a work contribute to its artistry.

In a sense, the score is an artifact and musicians are like archeologists who attempt to rediscover from the remains of the past what the composer may have tried to "say" in the work. This is not an easy task since it entails much thought about the ramifications of a score that includes yet goes beyond the act of identifying and labeling the parts of the score.

Music is both an art and a science. This is true in the studio, the rehearsal hall, the practice room, the classroom, the library, resource center and laboratory. Regardless of the activity, we should always maintain a balance between the art and science of music.

One must study the art and craft of making music with their whole person. One's heart, soul, mind and body are integral parts of the process. A good score incorporates all these domains of human existence. A score is at once a designed, engineered structure and a channel for an aesthetic message. Its patterns and structure carry drama and a glimpse of the composer's spirit. If we study its "bones," we should not forget that a score is a whole entity that must be brought to life.

Good musical instruction integrates the art, craft and science of music. Studio and performance activity should not lose sight of the designed intellectual properties of the music. The class room should not forget the act of performance, its physicality, its feeling and drama. Neither performance nor academics should ignore what lies between the lines in a score, of the multiple domains that make up the whole of music.

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, hints at the what might go into the whole of a work in his poem, "In my craft or sullen art."

Always be aware of the poetry that sings in the music when practicing the craft and art of music. Notes are just things, it's how they go together and what they represent that counts. When given a score, remember that batteries are not included. It is up to you to energize it.