Michel van der Aa
I did a four year sound engineering study at the conservatory, the Royal Conservatory before studying composition. So, I was already a little bit older, and I — one of the things I specialized in is recording contemporary music.1 So, I saw a lot of scores and I heard a lot of music, so I was — when I went to study with Louis, he always said that when I walked in there was not a lot that he could probably teach me, but of course — there was a lot he did teach me. But I think one of the advantages of having been a bit older is that I guess I already made up my mind about a few sort of stylistic things. And perhaps it was less — which you sometimes hear with young composers is that they let themselves be influenced by their teachers or rather than having — in my case, I was a little bit older and a little bit more stubborn, so I guess there was less residue that can be found in my music from my teachers, I think.2
Having said that, I think it’s incredibly important who your first teachers are, because they’re all — I think one of the more sort of main tasks of a teacher, of a composer teacher should be to give their students self confidence and be as open as possible in sort of stimulating where he or she is going with the music.3 It’s your example, this is how you think you’ll be when you’re a bit older, and so it’s an incredibly important person for students I think.