Nadia Boulanger on learning and teaching
Nadia Boulanger (September 1887 – October 1979) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She is notable for having taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century.
Personalized education is key
Each student had to be approached differently: "When you accept a new pupil, the first thing is to try to understand what natural gift, what intuitive talent he has. Each individual poses a particular problem." It does not matter what style you use, as long as you use it consistently.
Cannot teach creativity
"I can't provide anyone with inventiveness, nor can I take it away; I can simply provide the liberty to read, to listen, to see, to understand." Only inspiration could make the difference between a well-made piece and an artistic one. She believed that the desire to learn, to become better, was all that was required to achieve – always provided the right amount of work was put in.
Teaching as pleasure and privilege
She saw teaching as a pleasure, a privilege and a duty: "No-one is obliged to give lessons. It poisons your life if you give lessons and it bores you."
Attention is essential for success
She insisted on complete attention at all times: "Anyone who acts without paying attention to what he is doing is wasting his life. I'd go so far as to say that life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece."
Your product is You
She said “Your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being”. I think her opinion applies to other professions too.