THOUGHTS ON CREATIVITY
SINCE VERY FEW IF ANY of our students will go on to be professional composers or music producers, is there value in spending more than a small amount of time engaging them creatively? Maybe that question can be answered with another: Is there value in teaching children to write prose in language arts class, to investigating nature with science experiments, or to working out abstract equations in algebra class when they may not go forth to be career writers, scientists, or mathematicians? Obviously the answer is an emphatic yes. We must give music students some experience with musical creativity if we are to provide them with a balanced musical experience representative of the diversity of musical activity.
Creativity-based learning also makes sense in a larger way. According to Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,1 we have passed through the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age and even the Informational Age and are entering the Conceptual Age, where creativity offers workers and businesses a competitive advantage.
All music educators, and really educators in general, do not have to look too far to find a compelling rationale to support the worth of creative work. Let’s look at some of the nonmusical creative tasks tackled by music teachers all the time. Creating a lesson schedule for fourth- and fifth-grade students is a chore the elementary instrumental teachers in my department undertake each fall to start the year. The goal is to schedule several hundred band or strings students into 30-minute, “pull-out” lesson groups of like (or at least similar) instruments. On average, we can schedule 10 lessons per day. So far, so good. The challenge, at least with our district’s scheduling policies, is to schedule these lessons around
1. Daniel H. Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (New York: Penguin Group, 2005), 48–51.