Now I’m going to show an easy rehearsal , which demonstrates my teaching philosophy when I’m composing with my students. This rehearsal is called “Yes, and” and its goal is to show you, how different kind of answers affect you and how hard or easy it is to get exited and free your imagination depending on the answers and reactions you get from others.

My teaching philosophy

Yes, and!

I attended a training a few years ago, where we found ways to start composing with our students. In one class we did a rehearsal how class mates should react to others ideas. You can try this with your friend. The goal is to understand how different kind of answers to your suggestions make you feel dispirited or exited.

First take a question. For example: Should we travel to Paris next summer?

Now ask your friend to answer “no” to every of your suggestions.

  • Should we travel to Paris next summer?
  • No, I don’t have any money
  • Put if we work harder this winter and save as much as possible?
  • No, I’m really not interested.

And so on and so on. Feel how hard it is to try to be exited when the other says to everything “no”.

Next ask your friend to say “yes, but” to every suggestion.

  • Should we travel to Paris next summer?
  • Yes, but isn’t the summer too hot time there?
  • We can go there on springtime also.
  • Yes, but I don’t know can I have a vacation in May.
  • Let’s find out!
  • Yes, but I don’t think it’s going to work out.

Did you notice? This is much easier than the “no” exercise, but still the discourse doesn’t lead to anything.

And the final exercise is that your friend says “yes, and” everytime. Notice, that now is your time to say “yes, and” too.

  • Should we travel to Paris next summer?
  • Yes, and we should see the Eiffel tower there.
  • Yes, and I want to see the Mona Lisa painting
  • Yes, and we’ll spend the whole day in Louvre
  • Yes, and some concerts too.
  • Yes, Paris opera or ballet would be wonderful and some church concerts.
  • etc.

Did you feel that? How easy and inspirational this conversation was? How lovely it would be to go to Paris together and plan all these cultural visits to the trip?

This is just an exercise but for me it was a whole lot more. I realized that I often say to myself “no” or “yes, but”. After I started to say “yes, and” to myself, to ideas who I could be and what I could do, I have been able to release my creativity and my life has been so much more fun. Earlier when I thought I would like to compose, I said to myself: “No, you’re not good enough. Don’t even try.” If I wanted to write something I said to myself: “Yes you could, but do you have anything interesting to say.” I said “no” and “yes, but” to so many ideas and it was totally discouraging. Nowadays I say “yes, and” and I have permitted me to compose, draw, write blog posts, write poems, do this web site etc. But I have to say: Don’t use this to anything dangerous or something that’s not permitted. It’s not the right tool to that. But when you want to release your own creativity it works really well.

As a teacher your job is to say “yes, and” to your students ideas when they compose. I know it’s sometimes hard, when you have a clear view how the music should continue and your students takes music to a different direction. But learn to say “yes, and”. Accept and value all of your students ideas. If you interfere too much in their composing, they have to compose your music.