Monday, October 29, 2007

Quotes for 10-29-07

I found this set of articles particularly informative. As educators in the arts, we are charged with developing the creativity of our students and helping them to express that creativity and create a final product. This, to me, presents a great challenge. How do you teach something that, in many cases, is inherent to students? Also, as teachers, how do we define creativity and understand it in order to teach it or encourage its development? Developing something that is not fully understood is quite difficult. I found this week's articles quite helpful, though in answering these questions.

Maud Hickey answers the latter question in her article, "Creative thinking in Music". As Dr. Hickey suggests: "One way [to understand creativity's] meaning is to examine creativity from four different perspectives: the person, the process, the product, and the place". When these aspects are considered, many lesson plans can evolve as each area can (and should) be targeted individually. For example, when the element of 'process' is considered, lesson plans can be abundant. Dr. Hickey suggests that the process of creating can be broken down into a further four stages (preparation, incubation, verification, and product). I agree with the author in that many children do not inherently understand the process and can become discouraged if they cannot complete it. Even I did not fully understand the creative process on a cognitive level, as I had never thought of it along those lines and I believe that many students feel the same way. How can they be expected, then, to complete the process successfully? I feel now, though, that I can help them with that as this article has spurred cognitive thought about the process and I feel that I can competently design lesson plans along these lines.

I also agree with Dr. Hickey's assessment that "All children have the potential for creative development and an understanding of these traits [that are characteristic of creative people] can help the teacher encourage development". I feel that, even though teaching creativity is a challenge, it is possible--especially once the teachers themselves are cognitively aware of what the creative process involves.

I feel that teaching the creative process is very valuable to students. Creativity in the arts is essential as it helps move the arts from pure repetition of technical skills to true art. I truly feel that time for encouraging, exploring, and honing creativity should be included in any curriculum.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quotes for 10/15/07

I found this set of articles particularly interesting, specifically coming from my background. In my early music education career, I had never been formally taught "active listening" and had never actually thought about its benefits and usefulness in a curriculum. More specifically, too, I was never really exposed to jazz until my senior year in high school and, while it is enjoyable, I had never thought that jazz could be so influential in a curriculum. I completely agree with McDonald, though, jazz is a "uniquely American musical genre" and could fit very nicely into any curriculum and spawn many cross-content lessons, specifically in American history.

The question, then, becomes how do I incorporate listening into a curriculum? As a jazz player, I can incorporate performance of jazz into the curriculum, however, as the quoted teacher says "I still know it's just not enough to have my kids play or sing a simple blues scale and listen to one or two old standards" (McDonald, 43). Active listening, and Jazz listening in particular, can be used to fit many of the MENC standards, from responding to jazz, to performing jazz, to reading about jazz (McDonald, 44). All of these activities become valid, not to mention important, when viewed in this light. I particularly liked this article as it scripted and outlined a very complete and through unit on jazz listening that can be easily adapted.

After reading these articles, I have to concur with Dr. Campbell, "listening is sometimes and underrated activities in school classes and ensembles" (30). I also feel that by using several of the tips that Dr. Campbell offers (particularly the environmental music activity), listening can be a fun and meaningfull activity. For any musician, listening is a skill that is important to develop, not simply in the context of ensemble skills (where most listening is taught), but also in the context of understanding and appreciation. I feel, now, that listening does deserve a place in any curriculum and can't afford to be overlooked as it can easily tie several different elements of a music (and other subject) lesson together.