More thoughts on Creativity

10 04 2009

I just finished reading a paper by Pamela Burnard titled, Reframing creativity and technology:  promoting pedagogic change in music education and there are so many thoughts going through my head that I thought I’d share some of them.  Burnard advocates for research based education, claiming that it is “the most enduring and successful way of ensuring progress in high-quality musical learning…”  I wonder about that.  It seems to me as I go on this research journey that often by the time research makes it through the channel it is already outdated. It seems to me that “research based education” is a way to pay professors, not to educate children.  I suppose that would be unpopular as part of my Masters project…

Burnard does make a lot of good points in her paper though, many of which I have been reflecting upon.  Like her claim that music education uses restrictive pedagogic ideologies. I like to think that I am open to change, but I also know that my Orff training has certainly had an influence on my pedagogical practices.  I hope in a good way, that what I do allows children the opportunity to play and learn and grow in a natural way and not one that is regimented and dictated.  How can I take the elemental truths that exist for children today, and build on them?  Hmmm.  Maybe I need some research to find out what those truths are 😉


Research on Creativity in Music Education

20 01 2009

What is Musical Creativity and How do we Measure it?

Creativity is a major factor in the context of a complete music education. Whether it can be taught is still in question. Musical creativity has been found to be connected to exposure, which is not always something that happens in a formal educational setting. Researchers have found creativity in jazz improvisation to be linked to knowledge of and exposure to jazz theory, to be linked creativity to classroom participation in a school wide arts program. They have explored ways to structure curriculum to promote creativity, and there has also been much written about the use of technology to aid in fostering creativity.

Ahh creativity?  What is it? Can we teach it? Is it divine or perhaps just luck?  Do we need skills to be creative?  So many questions.  Some argue that musical creativity can be defined in a similar way to general creativity, in that it must produce work that is both original and appropriate, have structure and not be random noise, but isn’t that what many consider the music of  Arnold Schoenberg or Jimi Hendrix?  Is distortion or dissonance noise or creativity.

The biggest obstacle to researching creativity in music education, has been finding a way to quantify the creative value of an artifact. The majority of the literature on creativity in music education focuses on improvisation and composition, two areas that are commonly agreed to require creativity.

I recently gave my grade 5 students a mini composition assignment.  One student wrote a very interesting piece that had a clear form, and structure, but had no clear tonal center.  Was it creative or just naive? How do we measure it objectively?  (btw – half the kids thought it was awesome, the other half rolled their eyes.  I’m thinking Schoenberg here…)

Like I said, more questions than answers.

Creativity in Music Education and Technology

16 01 2009

My current coursework has us looking at the idea of research and research questions.  After I finished my research last term on Creativity and technology in Music Education, I was left with more questions than I started with.  The most difficult is how do we define what is musically creative?  Most of the studies look at improvisation or composition.  There are, however,  plently of brilliant composers who basically stole from their colleagues and contemporaries and mixed things up.  (Ever listen to both Handel and Haydn at the same sitting? it becomes clear that they shared) How different is borrowing a motif and re-arranging it from a mash up?  Is it creative, innovative, or theft?  Or some combination? What role do new technologies play?  Can I consider student work to be creative when there is no “musical” skill involved?  So many questions… not many answers.

Creativity and Technology

26 10 2008

I am currently in the midst of a research project on Creativity and Technology.  Clearly I will have to narrow this topic down as there is so much to read.  I am particularly enjoying ” Leonardo’s Laptop:   Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies.” by Ben Shneiderman from MIT Press. I am looking at the idea that we need transformations in computing away from computing technologies that do things for us to computing technologies that enable us to do a better job.  Shneiderman cites a lot of compelling evidence, like the ideas that computers can’t have that “Aha!” moment, which is the spark of creativity, but they can support you in getting to that moment, and taking it to the next level.

The most amazing thing I have found in the midst of this project is a little tool published by the National Acadamies of Science call the Reference finder.  Check it out here: