Friday, December 23, 2011

Creative plus Happy does not equal Crappy

The other day, I wrote this note to myself: “Creative people must model creativity and the creative process by approaching every aspect of their lives in a creative way.” Not to put pressure on myself or anything.

This morning, as I was ironing Christmas stockings (since it’s the 23rd, I thought maybe we should decorate a little) I realized I had blown it yesterday with one of my piano students. I was trying to help her master a passage with what I knew would be the perfect “technical” approach. I worked her and worked her (in a calm and patient way, of course) reminding her to take more time, go slower, think before pushing the notes. I can’t believe I went so far as to ask her to temporarily turn off her musicality and approach things mathematically. Wow, what was I thinking??

While getting that last crease out of the stocking my mom made for me as an infant, I saw the light. Because my student is so bright and so musical, I could have made the whole experience much more fun for her if I had utilized her gifts by suggesting that she come up with a new rhythm for the passage. This is something I do all the time when I am trying to perfect my performances. I find places where I need to pause in order to give myself time to find my notes, and then make a little game out of it. Maybe a measure in 4/4 time becomes 7/4 time, but that’s ok, I’m just doing what I need to do to get things right, without turning my practice session into something dull, dry and scientific. Sometimes, these games actually provide ideas that become the seeds for the next composition I will write.

Temporarily shutting off my creativity equals following a recipe to a T, and not listening to the suggestions from my inner voice (hmmm, maybe a little red pepper will add some zing to this apple pie – which it did, by the way.)

Temporarily avoiding new thinking may mean that I write a duet instead of a trio, because, by golly, I had planned a duet, and so what if this other voice is trying to coax its way into my piece. (Listen to “I Know” for Clarinet, Horn and Piano, from my Mood Swing CD)

Temporarily shutting off our creativity equals avoiding fun and life and being surprised in the moment.

This is mainly a note to self, but for kicks, I thought I would share it with you. Merry Christmas and a Creative and Happy New Year!