Author Archives: Mara Gibson

Skirts or Pants? How About Both

Skirt by Wanda Ewing

As women, by and large, we have been taught to view ourselves as made up of independent spheres, separating our profession from our gender, and from our craft. One challenge is to allow and encourage our various roles to operate and shape us in tandem, rather than in silos.

Rethinking How We Teach Composition, Part 2

Igor Stravinsky & Nadia Boulanger (1937)

We still have a long way to go in terms of shifting the model of what a composition teacher can provide. First, we must address the master/apprentice mentality. I propose we to do this by continuing to allow more inquisitive learning to take place alongside modeling. Secondly, we desperately need to openly and pragmatically identify the inherent challenges of gender in composition.

Rethinking How We Teach Composition, Part 1

Mirar graph

Teaching composition requires a balance between the student and the teacher; between the micro and the macro. The strategy includes the teacher’s understanding of the creative process, the student’s reflection on that process, and a design of individually tailored tasks for the student—a set of activities mutually agreed upon. Constant shifting between the big picture and the small steps is critical.

Framing Your Voice, Part 2

Mara Gibson Inspiration Board

I have encountered many personalities who have shaped the composer I am, but the most distinct memories are from my interactions with two very different composers during the summer of 1998 at Darmstadt: Helmut Lachenmann and György Kurtág.

Framing Your Voice, Part 1

Baldessari's "Beethoven's Trumpet (With Ear)"

What distinguishes a good teacher from a great one? The most successful atmosphere for the student and teacher exists when both parties are thinking, creating and being stimulated by one another’s ideas and artistic solutions.