When Today's Composers Become an Inspiration to Develop Musical Creativity in Schools

By Cavanagh, Claire | The Canadian Music Educator, Winter 2016 | Go to article overview

When Today's Composers Become an Inspiration to Develop Musical Creativity in Schools


Cavanagh, Claire, The Canadian Music Educator


Creativity and composers - accessible or not?

It is not a secret. Composing music is still, today, a mysterious phenomenon; unknown and almost taboo. Most of us listen to plenty of music, some have the chance to play music, but very few experiment with improvisation and composition. What about in music classes in schools? A survey completed by the Quebec Federation of Music Educators' Associations in which 330 people participated (99% music specialists), showed that half teachers spend less than 20% of the time in class on compositional activities, and 82% of teachers do not view such activities as a priority (Peters & Pierre-Vaillancourt, 2013). Is it a lack of time? Lack of resources? Lack of experience in composition? Since most music teachers are first trained as performers, it is only natural that they feel most comfortable teaching what they know best (Òdena & Welch, 2007). And Western music tradition places composition on a pedestal, becoming unreachable for those who do not play an instrument, are unable to read notation, and do not have a sufficient background in theory and harmony. Are all of these musical skills necessary before exploring composition and creativity? In other artistic areas, we encourage children to explore and create without any reservation. For example, toddlers scribble and draw before we teach them the rules of artistic perspective and shading techniques. The important element in beginning musical creativity is to have a purpose - to have something to express. The technical aspects of musical understanding are developed over time; a circular process that recognizes that through creativity technical skills are learned, and with technical skills creativity may be explored.

And if we were inspired by contemporary composers?

As a performer and teacher, teaching composition frightened me until I joined the team of the Quebec Contemporary Music Society (SMCQ), an experience that connected me with several local composers. It is extraordinary to listen and learn from composers who explain where their inspiration comes from, and how they "construct" their music. I discovered artists who are friendly, open, enthusiastic, and bubbling with imagination. Above all, I was amazed to see that, although their compositions were sometimes extremely complex, their creative process could become a rich source of inspiration to integrate music creativity in class. As these living composers are citizens of our time, their works represent current society and draw on experiences within the world we live in today. Their music is a testimony of the vibrancy of our reality. Ana Sokolovic, for example, is often inspired by paintings, dances and even the rhythms of words, while Denis Gougeon has a certain fascination for modes of transportation - bicycles, trains, planes - which he likes to illustrate in his music. As for John Rea, the informed listener will catch his many nods to the masterpieces of other eras, and will be dazzled by his games of smoke and mirrors. Most of all, these creative specialists remind us that our child's heart should not be too far away when composing music...

Striking projects

The Contemporary Music Society Quebec (SMCQ) has worked for several years on the development of school projects to explore contemporary composers and musical creativity. One of its main proposals, the All Ears/All Play project, is part of the SMCQ tribute series which honors a selected composer. The SMCQ brings together the composer, a team of cultural facilitators and an educational consultant in music, to develop the All Ears/All Play project which includes:

1. Workshops for teachers with the selected composer and facilitators;

2. An educational package (DVD, CD, comic book, teacher's guide) to guide music appreciation, performance and composition activities inspired by the composer's works; and

3. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

When Today's Composers Become an Inspiration to Develop Musical Creativity in Schools
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.