Creativity: Where to start?

Creativity: Where to Start?

Now we know the study of creativity began with some behavioral psychologists in the early 1900s (What Does It Mean To Be Creative?) and there are some different ideas about what makes up the creative process which can include elements of convergent and divergent thinking. But you might ask, what do I do with this information? The answer is simple – embrace the messy and start creating! Don’t wait until the beginning of the school year, or until the next concert is over. Creative work can begin with your students today. 

Creativity: Where to Start?

Where to Start? 

What are the musical skills you are working on in class right now? Maybe you’re working within a specific key, or learning about specific notes, rhythms, or expressive elements. Using what you are already doing in class, encourage students to improvise, compose, or just create something that shows their understanding. Often with students who are new to creating their own music, I’ll have them echo short patterns first (rhythmic or melodic), then encourage them to change one note in the pattern, then encourage changing all the notes. It’s a scaffolded process that gets students creating in a way that feels safe. 

Once students are comfortable creating their own short patterns, then you can move into something a little more complex. This could be a longer or more intricate composition, creating with more stipulations, or even creating in groups. One fun activity we did in class this semester was affectionately referred to as “the puppy project.” This creative project is fun and easy: display three different images of puppies for the class to see, put students in small groups (groups of three work well), and have students work with their group to create music that reflects one of the puppy pictures. Once students have completed their composition, they can perform it for the class, who must then guess which puppy the music represents. This works especially well if you can find three very different puppy pictures – maybe one sleeping, one playing, and one sitting still. 

Another idea is to encourage students to recreate a popular song using their instruments and/or voices. Again working in small groups, students could start by learning the melody and then add bass and harmony parts as they are ready. For younger students, consider providing a list of songs you know will work well, such as something in a familiar key or with a limited melodic range. Some songs I’ve used include We Will Rock You by Queen, What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, or Flowers by Miley Cyrus.   

Here are some additional blog posts that describe creative activities you can try: 

What to Read? 

If you really want to learn and think more about creativity in the music classroom, here are some books I can recommend. 

Do you know of a great resource that I’m missing from this list? Please share it! 

At the end of the day, something is better than nothing. Remember that creativity is messy, and that’s a good thing! Start somewhere. Take a risk, do something different, and enjoy the ride! Your students will thank you 😀

*Please note, this post includes affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission when readers purchase items through my links. This helps immensely with website hosting fees and similar expenses!

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