The process of creativity

Post forty-seven in our (re)learning to teach music series. This is week ten of the collaborative blogging and we continue with chapter eight. 

Mike Morgan @MikeMMusicED

I feel in my own creative process I have experienced each process. I have responded to briefs and started to form and explore a “problem” when writing a piece of music for media. I have doodled many times by playing guitar and creating ideas which expand from this. I was actually doing this last night and exploring chopping up samples to create motifs and continually experimenting using Ableton in a ‘playful’ way. I have also had moments of impulse and inspiration where ideas have come to my head. This then formed a composition based on what I hear. Where does this fit into our classroom? I think it is important that we make pupils aware that creativity comes in many ways. I find it is this process which pupils struggle. They don’t know where to start or how. I supposed the most applicable one to the classroom is model A and B. Giving the pupils a brief and material to play with can help engage in the process. It is usually the where to start is the issue. When we allow them to start, they are able to flourish!

Vaughan Fleischfresser @VFleischfresser

When I look at the three models of creative process presented, I see combinations of elements used by staff and pupils alike throughout my career. The two that contain the most familiarity are Model A and Model B. Model A is one which I’ve seen throughout my time, particularly when working in primary schools. The incubation, with its focus on imagination, followed by the glorious illumination or eureka moment. This model seems to fit and suit the young child when being creative. When I give pupils the chance to create music with very little input from myself, this model seems to occur quite naturally. With this in mind, the verification stage is vital, as this can be where a teacher makes or breaks the creative spirit of the child. We must verify and encourage refinement and adaptation with care.

Model B is one which I’ve seen throughout my time, particularly when working in, or observing teachers in, secondary schools. The notion of exploring, learning about a particular medium, then controlling the medium through specific skills, techniques, and boundaries, seems to be often thrust upon staff and pupils alike by the assessment structures through which creative work is assessed. While this model can work for some pupils, it certainly doesn’t for others, and can stifle the creative process of the individual. From what I’ve seen throughout my career, a blending of Model A and Model B provides the best opportunity for maximising the creative potential of all our pupils.

In terms of my own creativity, again, as above, I recognise a blending of Model A and Model B in my own work. When it comes to improvising and listening, I would situate myself within Model A – lots of imagination in an attempt to ignite the illumination, followed by a rather deep and self-critical verification process. In terms of performance, I would situate myself within Model B, with a greater sense of acquaintance, control, and structure. Finally, from the perspective of composing, I would situate myself within a blended version of the two models. I start with acquaintance, move to incubation, await the illumination, then find my way to the controlling and structuring, finally ending in the verification stage. All of this highlights the extremely individualistic nature of creativity, and the creative process. Isn’t it wonderful!

David House @House_dg

I could cite examples of all the stages mentioned in the three models. I’m going to select a few: initiating, incubation, illumination, structuring, and responses and evaluation. There are regular opportunities for students to engage in the initiation of creativity – usually involving stimulus supplied as part of the curriculum “compose a piece based on one note” for example, there is something provided as a trigger. The incubation is an interesting one, I am more inclined to cover work and then return to it after spending perhaps two or three lessons on something else “now, let’s revisit our work on creating music using ostinato” listen back to the initial attempts and discuss ways forward. Structuring comes in as another regular feature, and this links directly with responding and evaluating: “how else could that group have brought the piece to a conclusion?”. Sometimes then running with suggestions and extending the time taken on a piece of work in order to explore other creative solutions to the initial “problem” than the one offered.

I recognise all aspects of the models in my own creativity, there has to be a starting point [either imposed externally or generated myself], working through the creative process might be working in a medium, researching similar works or performances [in the case of preparing to perform individually or conduct this might well involve wide listening to recorded performances], sometimes the “light bulb” moment arrives, at other times being away from a piece leads to a return with added vigour and insight [I have often found this after practising a piece for several weeks, rest it for a while and then return], finally the presentation and performance. It is frequently the evaluation stage which is likely to be omitted but experience shows that this is missed out at one’s peril. Although evaluation sometimes needs incubation time of its own to be valuable.

Ewan McIntosh @ETMcINTOSH

I would say that at KS3, model B is the main process of creativity that happens in the classroom as the Scheme’s of work lend themselves to this model with some exploratory work before students then learn skills and mastery of skills to then structure their learnt and developed ideas into a composition or a performance. At KS4 however, model A tends to be a bit more used especially the first stages. With KS4 compositions and Workington briefs, there is an element of a research stage where pupils will look into suitable types of music for their brief and do some research into what works in a selection of other composers work so that they can start to get an idea of what is possible when they are composing. After the initial research, the model moves much more into model B. I have never really seen model C at work in a school setting. I would say that my own working practice is based around model B with lots of experimenting and getting ideas and inspirations down before then developing these ideas within the medium I am working.

Steven Berryman @steven_berryman

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