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The other day, I was browsing my desktop and stumbled upon some old files from the time when I was at the University of Aveiro, here in Portugal, studying for a Master's degree in Music Teaching, specifically in Classical Guitar and Chamber Music. One of those files was my dissertation, entitled Composição: complemento para a criatividade e espontaneidade instrumental, which translated to English means "Composition: a complement to creativity and instrumental spontaneity". This document is online and open for verification here.
My dissertation consisted in a dwell on mine and others theoretical points of view about the importance of including tasks of music composition in the main guitar syllabus. Also, it consisted in a practical applied project, therefore some reports were also included. This educational project aimed to show the possibility of developing the creative facet of the students from basic education in classical guitar (1st to 5th grade) by encouraging them to compose with, and for, their own instrument. This project also aimed to show a creative and complementary way to cover concepts from the interpretative and technical domains likewise covered on the standardized repertoire from the official conservatoires, schools and music academies.
Here follows some interesting quotation paragraphs about music that I found from that time which I used to illustrate some points of view over the matter. Some paragraphs were originally in English but some others I had to translate from Portuguese for the purpose of this blog:
"(...) research [in the area of students' motivation for practicing the instrument] has been clarifying differences between the degree of motivation to practice pieces imposed by the teacher and pieces chosen by the students themselves" (O'Neill & McPherson , 2002, p. 41).
“time spent on a variety of experiences, such as improvising, singing, listening, and bodily movement activities tend to improve performance or at least not adversely affect it” (as quoted in Elliott & Moody, 1997).
O'Neill and McPherson refer as examples of informal practices: «(...) playing your favorite pieces by ear, "bodily moving" or improvising.» (O'Neill & McPherson, 2002, p.41).
“The starting point for defining the main purposes, objectives and specific activities of the music program should be in articulation with its nature and value. This set of ideas should set the direction for our work (…). When the ultimate goal is unclear, the most likely result is inconsistency in action. (…) The ultimate goal of learning should be the parameter by which we judge our specific activities” (Reese, 1976, p. 87).
“More important than directing efforts to train children to be creative, music teachers should nurture the ability to think creatively about music” (Hickey & Webster, 2001, p.19).
“The last few decades have seen an ever-increasing acquisition and sharing of knowledge regarding creative thinking – both within and outside the field of education –, thus making it more and more obvious that encouraging students to apply their increasing knowledge about music in creative ways should underpin both the philosophy behind and the teaching practice” (Hickey & Webster, 2001, p.19).
“Music as a language is an art that is distinguished by the direct communication of emotions, physical sensations and states of consciousness” (Dobbins, 1980, p.36).
“composition is not successful in a vacuum of ideas” (Priest, 2002, p.49).
“Improvisation has been described as an instantaneous composition” (Dobbins, 1980, p.37)
“Perhaps, the most widely used, basic definition of a creative product is something that is both original (unique) and valuable or pleasing. It is important to note that the terms “original” and “valuable” are relative to the social context and group from which a product emerges. A musical composition or improvisation is creative when compared to what others have created in that specific time and place, (…)” (Hickey & Webster, 2001, p.21).
“A classroom that encourages rather than squelches creative thinking is one that is psychologically safe, contains many rich sound sources for frequent and engaged exploration, and promotes an atmosphere of risk taking (allowing for failure)” (Hickey & Webster, 2001, p.21).
I hope you enjoyed reading this, in my opinion, outstanding quotes about music education. While reading this I felt a little bit nostalgic: "Oh joyful but rough days when I was a full-time worker and a part-time student during my free time". On the other hand, these quotes helped me revive some interesting and pertinent points of view over the matter, being it useful since beyond me being a musician I'm also a music teacher. If you don't have anything to do with music, arts or general learning/teaching activities, please let me still believe that this article enticed your curiosity at least!
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