motif

This is one of the really successful music camp activities  we’ve done this summer. During our   Let’s Get Creative Camp, the students all made music creativity journals.  For basic journals,  you can use school composition notebooks found at the local drug store or school/office supplies store. They have a solid cardboard cover that is easy to cover with varied pieces of scrap booking papers and decorations. I chose to use card stock for the covers, with various lined, blank and music manuscript papers for the insides. I have a binding machine, which makes it easy to put together booklets with whatever filler paper you desire. They can also be taken to a copy store and bound for a small fee. After the journals were completed, the students used them to write and illustrate on of each:

  • Poem
  • Silly Song (lyrics set to melody)
  • Simple Instrumental Composition (for piano, drum or other instruments using standard notation)
  • Lead Sheet (notated melody with chord symbols, like you find in a “fake” book, for a nursery song   or other simple song)
  • Lyric Song Chart (lyrics with chord symbol above to indicate chord changes)
  • and…last but not least…

“My Big Event”  Improvisation Game –

(Learning how to organize music while having fun improvising!)

Here’s  how it went:

1 ~ We started out by writing a title at the top of one of the blank unlined pages in their journal. This title was determined by answering this simple  question, “What favorite thing did you do this  summer?”  Some of my students’ titles were: “Sea World”, “At the Fair” and “The Big Swim Meet”.

2 ~ Next, the students were asked to draw three big circles on their page, and illustrate each, depicting three different scenes from their “Big Adventure”.   [···]

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(Improvisation Journals, Budding Ideas, Blossoms and Bouquets)

Last month I talked about students making improvisation journals to jot down their musical ideas. Paralleling the creative process to stages in development of flowers and bouquets, ideas were offered in these areas (see Blossoming Improvisation – Part One dated 9/25/09) :

  • Preparing the Soil for Creativity
  • Planting Seeds (motifs).

Today I want to talk about the remaining three stages in my flowery discussion of creativity:

  • Budding Ideas (phrases)
  • Blossoms (sections)
  • The Bouquet (the composition)

Budding Ideas (Phrases)

In this section, short motifs from the “Planting Seeds” section (see Part One of this series) will be expanded in to phrases. The motifs may be used as “take-off” points, or combined to create an interesting theme.

Since a phrase is a musical sentence, it needs to have a beginning, and build through the middle to a period or question mark at the end. The picture of a rainbow shape is a helpful analogy of a phrase shape. Though all phrases do not follow the same melodic and dynamic shape, the rainbow shape will ensure nicely rounded, successful phrases for introductory purposes. Once this is achieved, turn up at the ends of the phrases to create question phrases.  [···]

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(Improvisation Journals, Preparing the Soil & Planting Seeds)

“How do I get really good at improvisation?” a student will ask me from time to time.

Most successful artists practice their craft daily. Think about any artist you may know. If you go into their studios, you will likely find evidence of the artistic process in many different stages of  creativity. With a creator of fine paintings, you might find a pile of rough sketches, pencil drawings and canvases with texture and shading patches; four or five versions of a still life of flowers and fruit, varying in color value, styles and techniques; and a landscape in water color sitting on an easel ready for finishing touches. The studio walls are decorated with finished works done by the artist, as well as pieces created by his contemporaries and influences which provide an inspiring work setting.

Journals are used by writers to keep the creative juices flowing, and to record their ideas.

Next spring, my students will be encouraged in their daily musical creativity with new improvisation journals! These journals will be specially created by the students themselves. There will be lots of space for jotting down melodic ideas, lyrics, doodles and drawings. Every other page will be manuscript paper, my intentions being that a great deal of the journaling will be done in a musical language (i.e. traditional notation, chord progressions, lead line, short hand notation, etc.).

We will have a journal making day in early spring when the students will put their books together and personalize their covers with pictures, pretty scrap booking paper, and collage. Manuscript paper can be downloaded from the internet and printed out from your computer. You might have access to a binding machine, or take the journals to an office supply store and have them spiral bound. You may also choose to use a simple audio software program (here is a free one you can download: audacity.sourceforge.net/) to do regular recordings of the students’ ideas. CD pouches are available also at an office supply store, and can be adhered to the inside covers of the journals.

Our journals will be divided into four sections, labeled “Planting Seeds“, “Budding Ideas“, ” Blossoms“,  and “Bouquets” to set apart the various stages of the creative process involved in improvisation and composition.   [···]

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