The current issue of the Swedish design journal LOFT carries a lavishly illustrated interview with composer Tod Machover. The interview focuses on the creative process and covers a lot of ground, from early childhood experiences with music to the ongoing project to compose a Concerto for Composer and City that calls upon the residents of Toronto to participate actively.
The other thing which I always tell my students, because I have learned this myself from experience, is that a good teacher does not necessarily provide you with a single strategy or approach to solving problems creatively. Probably the best composition teacher I ever had – the one whose thoughts still resonate in my own mind fairly frequently – is the one who had the least methodology or underlying theory to his commentary. In fact, I had to learn how to ask him questions to understand the connecting theories behind his reactions. But he also told me to look with a fresh eye and ear at each new problem, and to have multiple strategies at hand to address any situation that came up. It is this ﬂexibility and repertoire of complementary techniques that allows us to ﬁnd the most fruitful path, to steer around ruts, and to proceed whenever we do get stuck. In this way, each of us needs to develop a very good intuition about what methodology is going to work for you, right now – this year, this week, this day, this hour.
Any guesses as to who that teacher was?