[r-t] How to solve problems (was "Composing spliced treble-dodging major")

Michael Schulte michaelfschulte at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 8 17:44:06 UTC 2005

----- Mark Davies wrote: -----
> It might sound harsh, but - if you can't work that out
> for yourself, are you really cut out to be a composer?

... and later ...

> I'm sure anyone can indeed learn, but surely the thing
> about composing, as similar fields, is that it's all
> about problem solving; and the best way to learn how
> to be a problem solver is to be told, when you have a
> problem to solve, "bugger off and work it out for
> yourself". Is it not?

Not knowing you all personally, it's difficult to know exactly how to take such comments. Still, I
actually find this exchange quite rude.

I agree that the best way to learn to solve problems is *not* to be told the answers. In my
mathematics studies I have certainly found that I get more out of the work when I solve things
myself. Still, most good professors offer some *guidance*, usually in the form of probing
questions or observations that indirectly might lead the student to the answer. While not
explicitly giving it away, a good teacher will help a student along in the right direction.

However, what you (MBD) did (at least as I see it) was insult the person asking the question and
then tell them that, if they cannot figure it out completely on their own, they don't belong
asking in the first place. If you really feel that way then why not just leave it well enough

Hardly productive and quite offensive. I hope I have misread your intent. E-mail is certainly
horrible sometimes when it comes to such things...

Mike Schulte
Sewanee, Tennessee, USA

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