Today we are facing a fascinating time in which everything is questioned. Some of you will find answers to these questions with a language of your own that is not to be discussed, approved, or rejected. That exists.
Some will find ways to make themselves understood. Some simply make themselves understood, while others only try to make themselves understood. There are others who don’t have much to say, but just try to say something. That has always been the case.
In earlier periods, the style was so fixed that it yielded music which was as useless as it was intelligible — whereas in times of discovery, when the language is handled by the incompetent, the result is nothing — pure vagary and uncertainty.
So when you compose, it’s better that you make mistakes when you must but remain natural and free, rather than wishing that you were other than what you are.
I remember a day when Stravinsky was here. He took his neighbor at the table violently by the lapels. His neighbor, crushed, said to him, “Monsieur Stravinsky, I don’t understand why we’re going on like this. I agree with you!” Stravinsky passionately replied, “Yes, but not for the right reasons, so you are wrong!”
One can have good or bad reasons for exploring. If you explore in order to hide inadequacies, you are wrong. But if you want to say what you truly are, you owe it to yourselves to explore.
That’s why it’s very important for a teacher first of all to let the student play as he wishes, to write as he wishes, but also to be relentless on questions of discipline.