Arturo Riera

Arturo Riera

When teaching, there is an obvious difference of students and teacher, and it defines the space in which each of them operates, this is, a predominance of speaker on the teacher’s side, and a predominance of listeners on the student’s side, but what to do when this dynamic changes, and what is the difference on it being caused by a good thing or a bad thing? Creativity.

Of course is a bad thing if you as teacher, see the class being interrupted by a student who is just looking for some fun to alleviate his boredom, but when a student interrupts because he wants to learn or share his opinion, that is a whole other subject.

Creative Student

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Student’s minds are a roller coaster of thoughts when truly invested into the class, this sometimes end in confusion, sometimes boredom, interest, fascination, and something else, which is the topic at hand, creativity.

Creativity can come easily to some people while listening to other things, as if they use what they listen as bridges to create new paths in their minds, and this can happen with children, teens and adults. To have a somewhat balanced opinion let’s pretend we are talking about a 17 year old boy or girl which we will call “the creative student”.

The creative student sometimes can be a bit impulsive, because of the amount of passion there is for music, this has to be tamed, not stopped.

The importance of giving creativity the attention it deserves cannot be dismissed. Concerning this fact, Peter Webster from the Thornton School of Music says:

Consider for a moment how this might affect motivation.  With the rich opportunities to create music comes an inherent desire to learn more about technique.  Practice time is not based only on a teacher-directed and teacher-centered set of technical challenges, devoid of any student engagement.  Instead, there is added a personal investment in improving one’s playing or singing.  Listening to one’s recorded performances focuses attention on the need to improve sound.  Students asked to analyze their own musical performances, perhaps their own music, become more intrinsically engaged.

That is the ultimate goal in music education, students have to be engaged and inspired to make their own music, that’s why letting their creativity fly in class is crucial to their formation as musicians.

Classroom instruction for younger grades can continue to be defined by singing and moving but must also include attention to composition, improvisation, and creative listening. We need to completely rethink methods class to include more composition and improvisation and greater attention to technology

The Focus on Creativity

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If this is the focus, learning about technique will become a necessary means to achieve what they as musicians want, in other words, it has to be the teacher’s priority to make every student feel as comfortable as they can in class.

It’s also important to remember that some students may be more outgoing and more open to share their tastes than others, which is the different between the creative student and the rest of them. When we refer to a “creative student” does not mean that the rest of them aren’t creative, it just means that them as students are not showing that side of them, and the desired thing should be to make them all creative students. No one should be feeling left out or less than the rest, and in online lessons, where there are no classmates in the traditional sense, creativity should be more easily involved in each lessons.

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Music is actually a lot more than playing, and knowing how to write and read, there is a whole history that grows with each passing day, meaningful past creations, cultural movements, places, and people. Music teachers should always pay attention to these things as it contributes to the general knowledge and inspiration towards making music.

There is a problem about knowing how to do something but not completely knowing how or why, nor knowing how to explain it, this can be an issue that blurs the goals and inspirations as musicians.

History

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Music history is something that can help in various fields. First, you get a look at hundreds of artists, composers and bands with a wide arrange of genres, inspirations and styles that will surely be a great influence in future creations.

History also teaches about the musical evolution in terms of the similarities between composers from each era and context, and the evolution of technology, this sort of musical progress or change is an important part of human history as a whole as it shows quite a bit

In an article by Scott Huntington from the Oxford University Press’s
Academic Insights for the Thinking World, he talks about David Gonzol, who was his teacher at the time, and on the importance of learning about music history he said:

“All the best professional and amateur musicians, from Ella Fitzgerald to Paul McCartney, Adolph Herseth to Johann Sebastian Bach and Clara Schumann to Jean Ritchie, all made sure to know their field thoroughly and well. They knew their own performing skills, other performers, the repertoire, the history, the theory, the business, the culture, the people, everything. One can sing a melody or play a harmony, only if one really understands how those melodies or harmonies have been valued in their particular culture. How they have been performed, thought about, composed, improvised, listened to, danced to and worshipped to. Truly successful musicians understand all their music because they worked hard at becoming terrifically well-rounded. As cellist Lynn Harrell once said to a sixth-grade boy, ‘There are no shortcuts.’”

Dr David Gonzol

Culture

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The cultural impact of music is without a doubt one of the most important parts of its history, from Beethoven’s nine symphonies, which have been considered the cornerstones of Western civilization to Elvis and the Beatles in the 20th century.

Music can be one of the purest ways to express oneself, and this a lot of times comes in times of anguish, turmoil, fear, rage, sadness and very strong joy. Therefore music has been the main event for many counter culture movements, such as jazz, blues, rock, punk, electronic music and hip hop. While some of these are now established genres and made a partial transition into the pop culture, their origins came from a place of disagreement and incomprehension.

As Sheila Whiteley says in her article, Countercultures: Music, Theory and Scenes:

Music played a major role in the way that the counterculture authored space in relation to articulations of community by providing a shared sense of collective identity.

Sheila Whiteley

Music is a lot more than just performing, as every creation and performances are in a way representations of human emotions in different contexts, which then become signatures, time machines, and inspire people beyond borders and time, even more so now with the internet. Music connects people, and the only way to truly understand this is to learn its history.

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Classical music education is the most traditional form of musical education, however these days there are two ways to go with that kind of knowledge, the first is to stay true to its roots and perform as they would a few decades ago, the second way to go is to take all of that knowledge and bring it to 2019, where electronic music, computers, remixes and samples are a thing, and mixing rock, pop, and rap with orchestras is not a weird thing. These days, as a musician, you need to learn all you can, that way, creativity will blossom in a way it has not before, therefore bringing innovation.

Classical in Modern Rock

While there are many examples to choose from, Radiohead, David Bowie and Muse are some of the names that should be mentioned whenever of talking about classical influences in Rock these days. Whether it’s the influence of Chopin and grandiose feeling that draws Muse, the dissonance and beautiful blending sounds of Radiohead, or the electronic dark new sounds that we hear in David Bowie’s Blackstar, it’s clear that the classical sound is here to stay.

While in not the traditional way, all of these artists have used orchestras and classical inspired melodies to fuel new sounds and ideas which cannot be ignored when studying music as it shows the potential of strong traditional influences.

Gabriel Prokofiev: Remix The Classical

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Gabriel Prokofiev is the grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, the famous Russian composer, and he has been making classical music with a twist, as if the organic was imitating the artificial. On his electronic music influences he said in an interview:

GP: That came first, actually. When I was eleven or twelve years old, it was the 1980s, when you had the birth of electronic music. I liked synth-pop and electronic dance music when I was a teenager. I bought a synthesizer and was very interested in using a computer for music. So, it was something I was always interested in. When it came to studying classical music, I had a real passion for composition and I went to university to study music. In Birmingham University, where I first studied, they had a very good department for electroacoustic music, the classical electronic music, and I studied it further there. This was a very good way for me to discover my voice as a composer, with some disconnection from my classical roots. There was no connection with the symphonic work of my grandfather, when I was using electronics to make a big piece of music, therefore, I could develop as an artist.

However, ultimately, I got frustrated with the electronic music, mainly because the live performance of electronic music is often unsatisfying, because a lot of it is prepared beforehand, there is less of communication between the performer and public. When you see an orchestral performance, you can feel the incredible sense of community, energy. Also, as a composer, I felt even more exhausted, because you have to finish the whole electronic piece in the studio. You become the composer, the performer, and the producer, and you have to include a nuance of a live performance in the studio recording. It is great, but I think there are some brilliant musicians out there – why not to write a score and give it to them, so they could bring a new life into it. I am a sociable and communicative person, and I love the interaction between the composer and a performer. I would like a performer to give their contribution to the work; it should be a conversation.

While these are just a few examples, they are departures of the traditional way of making classical music, in the sense that in order to make something new, classical influences can help achieve that.

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