Fostering Musical Creativity Ten Tips: 5 & 6 of 10

Number Five & Six of Ten:

Think, work, and play divergently. Teachers should allow students to challenge key assumptions and break rules. In schools, much of education is convergent in that student work heads toward a singular pre-existing answer. Teachers should not fall into the science trap. Students rarely conduct experiments in science classes; they undertake contrived demonstrations designed to converge with an expected and known outcome. Creativity is about exploring possibilities and choosing from a range of solutions. Divergence in music-making is evident through musical interpretation and improvisation. For example, how can a simple musical idea be varied and extended? Teachers also should use the word ‘imagine’ in their teaching. Imagination is the capacity to think in terms of possibility, an essential ingredient for creative outcomes. Children will see many possibilities that teachers may not.

Never stop imagining. Imagination is greater than knowledge. – Albert Einstein

Teachers should engage students with the concept of ‘idea improvement.’ Edward de Bono says, “Most people look for creative solutions when things are not going well, but continuous improvement even when things are going well is an area ripe for creative thinking”. Complacency and self-satisfaction spurn creative improvement.

Teachers should inspire students through personal, historical, and peer examples. Heroes open our eyes, show us what is possible, and redefine the boundaries of possibility. Teachers ought to take students to concerts performed by professional musicians and by students of the same age. Students need opportunities to collaborate on musical projects with others. Real learning occurs when likeminded people share ideas.

Historical examples of greatness can remove the mythology of prodigious achievement. Students should receive the message that substantial preparatory work always precedes a masterpiece. For example, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony required at least ten years of study and was inspired by other works. These included Beethoven’s own Choral Fantasia and Mozart’s lesser-known Misericordias Domini in D Minor, K 222. Beethoven recorded much of his compositional planning, idea development, and constant revision in his prodigious collection of sketchbooks.

An excerpt from ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin

“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, Music Educator, New Haven, USA.

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“A deeply impressive work, the breadth of research is fascinating!” Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

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Also by Michael Griffin

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Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents.  “This has been a great buy, the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at Amazon.com

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Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!”  – St George College, Australia

Available at Amazon.com

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‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 84 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.

“This is really good for all kinds of vocal groups, choirs, conductors. Bravo!!”

“The thinking person’s guide to training a choir. Love it!”

“It’s great to have some fresh warm-ups to add to the repertory. The tips for actions and techniques are really useful, and the advice at the back of the book has made me review some of my strategies.”

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Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging.  Available at Amazon.com

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Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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