®The finest instrument is the mind.

Reflections on the Creative Spark

The Creative Spark

For teachers, what we teach is important and valid. But how we frame and set up for the act of learning is equally telling. How to create a space for the sparks to fly? To create space for learning, and to resist the urge to fill that space with our own teacher-knowledge, takes both humility and courage.  

We would like to share an excerpt from Dr. Andrew Hisey’s “Reflections on the Creative Spark” from Music Matters:

Parker Palmer in his 1998 book, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a teacher’s Life (Jossey-Bass), returns often to the idea of creating space in which learning can happen. To create space for learning, and to resist the urge to fill that space with our own teacher-knowledge takes both humility and courage. It requires the ability to plan activities and choose materials in substance that leave gaps for students to fill with their own thinking and questioning. It requires the ability and the wisdom to ask questions that open the right amount of space to be comfortable with the silence that may ensue. It takes trust in our students and the belief that music is strong enough, big enough, and complex enough to invite their intellectual and emotional curiosity, all by itself. It takes the ability to connect points of learning over time that help to construct an evolving framework for students to hang new thoughts on.

Two areas in which this can happen are repertoire and skills – things we already teach but in ways that tend not to welcome sparks. “

How have you been a part of sharing the creative process with your students? Share your experiences here!


Dr. Andrew Hisey is the Associate Professor of Music, St. Olaf College and RCM Senior Examiner

To read more of Dr. Hisey’s article and many more ways to facilitate the creative spark, read this issue of Music Matters.

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