Obstacles to Creativity

What is holding your students back from expressing greater creativity? In order to improve student creativity, it is not enough to teach creative processes. We must also continuously work to identify and reduce our students’ creative obstacles. Possible obstacles include: Obstacles to FocusPhysical discomfort – pain, hunger, temperatureA preoccupied mind – stress, restlessDistraction – sights,…

What is “musical expression”?

Teaching students to “express themselves through music” is an admirable goal for a music teacher. But what does that really mean? And if we can’t articulate it, how exactly are we going to teach it effectively? When we express ourselves through spoken language, we do so through the words we choose, the order we put…

The Many Forms of Improvisation

Musical improvisation is so much more than just making up a melody that is harmonically and stylistically appropriate for a jazz chart. Musical improvisation is the making and executing of musical choices simultaneously. It is not just a single skill or activity; it can take many forms. Musicians can use improvisation for play, performance, composition,…

Beyond Whiteness

This summer my wife and I moved from Chicago, where I was a freelance singer, composer, and private teacher, to Champaign-Urbana so I could pursue a masters in music education at the University of Illinois. Perhaps the most impactful thing I read this semester was “Listening for Whiteness” by Julia Koza. In it she describes…