MY INTEREST IN USING TECHNOLOGY in a creativity-based approach to music learning developed over many years. Early in my teaching career, I tended to fall back on pedagogical models I experienced when I was a student. These generally did not incorporate creative activity. This is fairly common among all young teachers, and frankly I absorbed some great stuff along the way since I had many fine music teachers. As a composer, however, I have been interested in creativity for some time. I just didn’t see the connection at first between what motivated and facilitated my creativity and my work with students.
It was the concurrence of three things that moved me in the direction of incorporating principles of creativity-based learning. First, I observed that my students—with or without my urging—were naturally creative. Many beginning band students would bring in songs they had written using the first few notes presented in their method book. Their eyes would light up when I helped them typeset their music with notation software, showing them how the software can playback what they had written. One sixth-grade flute student brought me in a self-made CD, recorded and produced with multitrack software at home, titled Vicki’s Greatest Hits. A middle-school tuba player wrote a song about ocean pollution for a social studies project; all he needed from me was a little help producing it using GarageBand. A colleague from a neighboring town established a popular after-school “recording club” and the tunes they were producing were surprisingly well done. And on and on. Just look online at sites like YouTube if you want to see for yourself the types of creativity, especially musical, that kids engage in all the time without the urging or formal guidance of their teachers. It is truly amazing.
Second, I began to recognize the allure and power for music education of the technology tools I was using to create music myself. I dove head first into using Finale music notation software in my composing, fascinated by its many useful features. I swelled with pride when I presented a professional-looking score to a client, even more so when I heard the work’s premiere. The time it took to learn the program was a small price for all that. Did I resent the hours I spent