The questions for Mona are trickling in and someone told me that I might not have allowed enough time to tell teachers, who would tell their students, who needed to think about questions, and then needed to submit them!  So, I am extending the deadline for submitting questions to Mona to this Friday, October 1st.

Another thing that occurred to me as I spoke with my own students about submitting questions was that students often do not realize a great opportunity when they see it.  Just as children don’t understand how scales, chords, balanced repertoire, counting, creating, etc. help make them a better pianist, neither should I expect students to understand how they can use this opportunity to interview Mona as a way to help them be better composers.  As a teacher, I feel it is my job to encourage my students to participate in the things that I know will make them better musicians.

So, this weekend, I sent an email to my students (any student who has composed something) that said this:

Last week, I gave a lecture on “Nurturing Creativity and Inspiration.”  I talked about how each of us has a “creative box” from which we pull out ideas and recombine them in new ways…like you do when you compose.  The difficulty is that if we continue to only use the ideas that are already in our box, our compositions will start to all sound alike. So, it’s important to continually reach outside of our box and pull in new styles, ideas, problem solving techniques, etc. so that our music can stay fresh.

I think this opportunity to submit an interview question is exactly that…a way to ask another composer how they deal with certain difficulties or things so that we have yet another way to approach composing the next time we do it.

So think of the last time you tried to write a composition.  What did you have trouble with?  Was it finding a good motive to begin with? Composing a B section?  Coming up with a title?  Writing lyrics?  Finding time to compose?  Feeling like you aren’t creative?  These are the things that you can ask Mona about!  How does SHE deal with these difficulties?

So, perhaps you can use something in the above paragraphs to help your students understand how this can help them and what a great opportunity this is.  You might remind your students about their last composing experience.  “Remember how you had trouble thinking of material for your B section?  Maybe you could ask a successful composer if she has any tricks for this.”

I know many teachers tell me that they don’t know how to help their student composers.  This is just one of many ways that all teachers can help their student composers.  We can help students enlarge their “box of creative ideas” so that they can have more ideas to draw from and more problem solving techniques with which to work. I’ll leave the opportunity open until Friday, October 1st for additional questions.

Thank you for your participation and for giving your students this opportunity!  You may submit questions here or send me an email.