Developing musical creativity: Music design

Where does original music come from? For people who can make it, it often feels easy. For those who cannot, it may feel impossible. Imagine this: every time I practice musical creativity, I am tending my musical garden. I start by wandering. I play little bits of music I have improvised and designed before, removing…

Developing musical creativity: Improvisation

Musical creativity: what is it? How does it work? How is it learned? And how should it be developed? Musical creativity is an inclusive term for all forms of creating original music. The two primary and distinct skills of musical creativity are improvisation and design. Improvisation is the process of making up music as you…

How we process experiences

Teaching is helping others learn. People learn through experiences. So to help me become a better teacher, I have been trying to understand how the brain processes experiences, emphasizing the parts most relevant to learning: 1. The self – consciousness and memory. who you are in the present moment based on everything you have experienced…

The 4 types of things that can be learned

In my experience, teachers think their course content is really important, and they privilege memorizing content knowledge over other kinds of learning. In order to resist this tendency in my own teaching, I have attempted to categorize everything that can be learned: Knowledge – rules and expectations, and content and interdisciplinary knowledge, on a spectrum…

All of Colorado’s Musics

My school music experience taught me that American music consisted of classical, jazz, and pop. It taught me that Chicago was home to world-class classical and jazz musicians, but it said nothing of its hip-hop, EDM, folk, or so many other musical cultures. Last month I moved to Denver. When I begin teaching here, I…

Facilitating Transformative Cognitive-Experiences

Elliot Eisner suggests that, “thinking and experiencing cannot be easily separated.” That, “no form of experience is possible without cognitive activity and that such activity is itself what we mean by thinking.” (Elliot Eisner, Cognition & Curriculum) Might it be clearer then if we consider them one and the same? Let’s call this concept “cognitive-experience”….

Morality in Education

My school experience was very individualistic. I wanted to do well, and I did not really know or care how others were doing. My school music experience was competitive. I wanted to be better than everyone else so I could get into the best ensembles and make all-state. I wanted to climb to the top….

“What is your primary instrument?”

This is a question I have been asked a lot. It sounds harmless. But I would like to interrogate it and suggest that we be more intentional with our language. This week when a teacher asked us to introduce ourselves in part by identifying our primary instrument, I had a minor identity crisis. I was…

How can I affect change?

Once you start identifying problems, it may feel overwhelming. Consider pursuing change from the bottom up: All of humanity All of America National education associations Your national music ed association Your state music ed association Your local community Your district Your school Your music program Your self Start by defining your own hierarchy, naming specific…

In what ways does your music program teach white supremacy?

When I finished high school, I thought it was normal and justifiable for white forms of music and music making to dominate school music. I thought it was normal and justifiable for white students to be disproportionately sorted into advanced ensembles and to primarily interact with the students most like myself. This just scratches the…