On Creativity

When it comes to Principles I Promote in Performance & Practice, Creativity is the first word in the acronym “CARRIAGE” which I use – a term that “can carry you through music and life.”

I was born into a family of real creative people. My mother was a longtime art teacher (also a flute player), my dad a classic blue collar Milwaukee dude who would find his own way to do or fix something long before he would pay someone else to do so. I’ve got all sorts of stories of “creative” ways he tried to fix my car… Including that one year I had four flat tires, due in large part to his creative patchwork. *sigh*

I digress. Or do I… That, my friends, is how I ended up as I have – sometimes too creative for my own good. Ever since I was a kid, I was into writing and playing music, creating art projects, writing my own “books” and poetry, etc. I told the story on my friend Andrew Hitz’s “The Entrepreneurial Musician” podcast about how as a child, I learned what overdoing it with combining colors to dye Easter eggs did, the hard way – going too far with the fancy ideas. However, I never would’ve learned if I hadn’t had the opportunity to try.

Creativity has generally served me well. As a musician, and as one who’s now branching out and doing more of my own work as a composer and independent musician, it’s particularly exciting. It’s fun to be creative with not just the music, as well: the promotion/website, the blog, the images, etc. Some of this is my own “original work,” some of this is putting my own spin on a template offered by others – either way, it’s a joy to create.

As one who works with musicians often, it’s the real creative cats – who have something unique about their music or their packaged offering (brand, personality, on-stage antics, etc.) that makes them memorable. In the end, so many musicians are really great at what they do. It’s those that think extra outside the box with SOMETHING – could be their music or otherwise – that really stand out and catch our attention, getting them noticed – getting them “the gig.”

For music students of mine, I will encourage them to try the composition pages in theory books. If those go well, I’ll give them some extra staff paper and challenge them to try their hand at a larger project. Sometimes students like to make up their own endings for some of the music that is assigned. Know what? I think it’s great. I tell them that there’s a time and a place for playing things as written, and a time and place for putting their own variations on music.

What is it that you will create today?




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