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Nurturing the Creative Music Teacher

In the spring edition of the Illinois Music Educator, I discussed the 4 C’s and their application to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I gave ideas for applying the 4 C’s in your music classrooms. I also shared my belief that creativity was the most important of the 4 C’s to a child’s learning and growth musically.

As I sat down to write this article, it suddenly dawned on me that my own creative juices were not fl owing, at least in the right direction. My thoughts kept coming back to the great uncertainty of education in our state. T is year has not been easy for a number of my colleagues in the state of Illinois. I have heard sto- ries of music classes being cut back or cut altogether. Many have mentioned that their teaching loads have been doubled due to cuts in staff . In some cases, travel has been designated as planning time. In other cases, music teachers are being asked to teach P.E. or other subjects they are not trained to teach.

As I refl ected on many of your needs in this state of uncertainty, I realized that not only do the children need to be nurtured toward creativity, but we as music teachers, may need to have our creativity boosted. As we deal with new and possibly unfavorable situations, never have we had more need to be creative ourselves to fi nd solutions. In some cases where there has not been change, you may just need to evaluate your current situation and decide whether what you’re teaching is still current and valid. T e following are suggestions for doing just that.


Ultimately, we must be responsible for nurturing ourselves, however, we can seek to associate with those who are posi- tive and open-minded. Who is helping or hindering your creativity? Look for administrators or teachers who appreciate your work and allow for change and new ideas. Hopefully, you are fortunate, as I am, in having wonderful administrators who don’t try to control, but facilitate change where needed. Ask yourself, who in your building or school district is positive and will listen and encourage you as you search for creative solutions to boost your teaching. Likewise, identify those who are negative and don’t add fuel for their fi re.

Sometimes, we just get tired. We may be using the same old curriculum that needs to be revamped. Try to seek new ideas to rejuvenate or jump-start your tired or broken down engine. Enroll in a certifi cation course or master class. Orff , Kodaly, and Dalcroze off er courses that will not only bring in new ideas and resources, but will allow you to meet new people who can share their ideas for diff erent situations. Attend the state conference in January. T ere are many great things happening this year, as you’ll discover later in this article.

Don’t be afraid to refl ect on your teaching and embrace change. Try new solutions to old problems. At the end of your les- son and while it’s fresh in your mind, ask yourself what went well and what didn’t. If an activity didn’t work, don’t look at it as a failure but as a chance to learn what did not work so you can try something

new. Remember that the answers we get from children depend on the questions we ask. Likewise, the success of a lesson depends on the way the activity was pre- sented. Is there another way to present the same activity? Possibly we just need to rephrase our questions or our presen- tation style. Always allow for diff erent ways of fi nding solutions and promote this with the children as well. Truly creative people know that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. Take risks and try something new.

Analyze your day-to-day habits. Are you in a rut? What changes in your routine could you make that would allow you to have a fresh perspective on your job? Are all of your routines still necessary? Be fl exible and embrace change positively.

Cultivate your own creativity by allow- ing yourself time to be creative. When your students are composing, you should compose as well. T e example you set will help to validate the creative process for them. You are not too old to play. Use your imagination and pretend.

Finally, don’t be afraid to brainstorm. T is reminds me of times I’ve overheard people who are brainstorming ideas, qualify their idea by saying, “I’m just throwing this out since we’re brainstorming.” Why apologize? What can it hurt? Your possible “lame” idea may be the inspiration for a great idea from someone else.

T is year you will fi nd a new title for our January conference. T is is a great

Illinois Music Educator | Volume 72 Number 1

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