John Cage's "Some Rules for Teachers and Students"

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student – pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher – pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: be self-disciplined – this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything – it might come in handy later.

© John Cage Trust






5 responses to “John Cage's "Some Rules for Teachers and Students"”

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    Where did you find this list?

  2.  Avatar

    David,It has been floating around our group for a few months, and we find it really inspiring. I've since seen it posted a bunch on the internet, including on one blog where Laura Kuhn (executive director of the Cage Trust), verified it was Cage's.

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    Dear Mr. Sliwinski, these rules were actually created by artist, Sister Corita Kent; originally published in “Learning by Heart: Teachings to free the creative spirit.” See the following link: is rather concerning in regard to verification by the Cage Trust executive and the validity of internet “research”, but in any case they are wonderful words of wisdom.

  4.  Avatar

    Anonymous,Thanks for your comment. I'd seen that same issue about attribution as well. I'm currently checking into it, as of course I don't want to spread an incorrect credit. But as you say, they are wonderful no matter where they originated.

  5.  Avatar

    Dear Mr. Sliwinski, I am glad to hear that you were already aware of the discrepancy in the citation of your posting. I am looking forward to your forthcoming research into the source of this intellectual property attribution.

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