I feel fortunate at Amherst to have occasion to teach courses in music theory, studio composition, music literature, and electronic music. Each of these gives the opportunity to study creativity in a different way. Music theory has different uses for different sorts of students: for composition students it is the discipline enabling them to control the nuts and bolts of musical craft; for performers it is a guide to locating the repositories of musical meaning in a score; for the music scholar it is a way of looking closely at how the logic and language of music relates to its expression. My aim is to show students how to think simultaneously on the many levels that creativity entails - how to connect the elegant world of pure theory with the richer but more complicated world of musical practice.
Composition is a vocation learned through doing, but a few words of guidance at the right moment can be valuable. Among the pleasures of teaching composition is to have a box seat in the creative process of students, with the license to enter the playing field to give the right nudge at the right time. Another pleasure is finding musical examples that speak to the issues confronting a composition class. Examining music literature of the past century has the excitement of surveying territory still not definitely mapped by history and theory, and sorting out our most immediate musical heritage. Electronic music represents the only remaining area where indisputably new techniques of sound production can be utilized, and for the acoustic musician is greatly broadening in its redefinition of the processes and media of music making.