“Your music is never less or more than you are as a person” – Nadia Boulanger


Look up for Nadia Boulanger on the internet, she was a really amazing woman! After graduating from Paris Conservatoire, she admitted that she didn’t have sufficient talent to be a composer, but yet she was a teacher of a whole generation of 20th century composers and classical music icons.

Among her students are notable composers Aaron Copland, Elliot Carter, Walter Piston (who wrote a handbook on orchestration!), Darius Milhaud, Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla, even also Lalo Schifrin (who wrote that iconic theme for Mission: Impossible!), Burt Bacharach, Daniel Barenboim and also Quincy Jones.

Now Quincy Jones’ career in the popular music realm spans from the golden era of big band jazz (he worked as an arranger/conductor for Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, even Frank Sinatra), composed for movies and of course we have to mention his works with Michael Jackson before he went on to work with so many great musicians of the younger generation.

Back to Nadia Boulanger. There was a story about George Gershwin applying to study with her during his stay in Paris. Boulanger declined to teach this young man who was already making a name out of his exhaustive list of jazz numbers and jazz-classical crossover compositions. Not also Boulanger, even Maurice Ravel and Arnold Schoenberg also rejected to become his tutors because they could already see that Gershwin already had his own voice in his music!

Fast forward to the 21st century, Quincy Jones once offered to produce Jacob Collier’s recording. Collier respectfully declined because he used to always have a full creative control out of everything he produced. They remain good friends and Collier is also glad to find a mentor in him.

As a producer myself, having great teachers both formally and informally have equipped me with so much knowledge, experience and wisdom that is not so far from Boulanger’s advice to Quincy Jones. When she said that our music will never be less or more than we are as a person, I found that it’s never far from the truth. My music expands as I keep growing to become a better version of myself.

Getting rid of all the negative thoughts and emotion has led me to become better at producing music. And knowing how to become a better friend also helps me a lot in writing music that I never even have thought before.

And just like Nadia Boulanger, I also learned that I have to limit myself from doing too many things to be able to do even more, to continue spreading inspirations that I absorb with whatever I’m doing in life.

Growing up reading so many stories, I always admire people who are able to quickly adapt to different situations and make the best out of what they have. And that includes musicians like Quincy Jones who is involved in a wide range of musical genres. But one thing for sure: to be able to branch out, we need to be deeply rooted on a certain value.

Looking forward, I don’t really know where I’m going to go next. But one thing for sure, I know that I will enjoy everything that comes, because I will keep on trying to become a better person for everyone that matters the most.