Is it possible to teach composition? What should one do amidst the plethora of easily accessible music genres and styles, and how can we approach various means of accessing them? What does a composition professor do? What are graduate composers doing and feeling throughout the learning process? 

These questions are complex and there are many answers to them. The question of how to teach ways of coming up with creative pieces of work has been important to humanity for a long time. Even though we do not have specific or definite answers, we do have numerous experiences across the world and throughout history of music. One thing we are sure about: all cultures have developed ways to teach their traditions and innovations. Thus, a possible way of thinking about the teaching of musical composition is to conceive it as a collective activity, beyond the direct relationship between teachers and students. 

With this in mind, maybe the best question is: which contexts have taught you to compose? In order to understand these contexts, this presentation will address selected compositional learning experiences. Some perspectives about teaching and composition using Fred Lerdhal’s, Geraint A. Wiggins’, and Paulo Lima’s works will be discussed.In addition to those pieces, we will be using Vinícius Amaro’s, Liduino Pitombeira’s, and Rafael Felício’s works to demonstrate relationships between learning composition and the act of composing.


Eric Barreto is a Brazilian music educator and composer interested in research about composition, culture, creativity, and educational curriculua. He is currently professor at the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA) and is a PhD student at the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil (UFBA), studying cultural and creative aspects in music composition teaching and learning at ten Brazilian universities, under the supervision of Dr. Paulo Costa Lima. During his master’s degree studies, he investigated the cultural process in teaching music composition in the undergraduate composition course at UFBA, focusing on the students’ cultural experiences throughout the process of learning composition. In addition, he is currently Visiting Scholar in the UCR Music Department, under the supervision of Dr. Paulo C. Chagas. 

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