Matt 'Gio' Giannotti

Composer, Audio Engineer, Academic

Teaching Philosophy:
One of the biggest challenges in teaching music composition is that there is often no right and wrong. In an essay by Simon Frith, ‘What is Bad Music?’ he intentionally skirts the issue, however comes up with a short list including poor production, immoral or dumbing aesthetic, and incompetent or unprofessional execution. Beyond this, if bad music is so hard to define, then how can one teach good music?

As a personal teaching philosophy, I believe that it is my role to encourage creativity in my students, helping to provide that initial spark of intrigue as well as tools to plan and develop projects. Successful teaching will help students build their skills, confidence, imagination, curiosity, and inventiveness. To do this, one must teach creatively by, planning experiences and opportunities that promote deep engagement and give the students a sense of agency, that endows them with creativity, motivation, courage and belief in their own capacity as musical thinkers, makers and creators. By fostering a creative environment, the students will have the confidence to take more creative risks.

In efforts to develop this creative environment, I do my best to maintain a positive atmosphere where there is no ‘bad music’. Every piece of music is an expression filled with personal history and a set of musical influences. By treating the students’ musical decisions with respect and listening to how they create, it can lead to a line of questioning that can help them grow and develop their ideas. If students are on the defensive, it can have a negative impact on their creative growth and lead to forced decisions instead of empowered ones.

Working in this way calls for an emotional awareness on the part of the teacher. When working in a creative field, it is important to balance constructive feedback with positive reinforcement, making sure not to diminish the confidence of any particular student.

Encouraging students to explore their own creativity, while helping them to achieve the maximum aesthetic impact, is what we should strive for, and understanding individual learners is crucial in helping each student develop as a musician.