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#932853 - 08/03/07 11:29 PM "Creativity for All"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I would like to share a quote I just read from an article "From Spirit, Not Mechanics" by Akiko and Forrest Kinney, in the American Music Teacher magazine (MTNA) Aug/Sept 2007 issue, page 96:

"For music making and teaching to be inspired arts rather than methodical skills, creativity can't be an option. Teaching and music both should flow from inspiration, not method."

Improvisation is a large part of what the Kinney's do in their teaching, and they have published books on creativity. I brought students to an "Improvisation" program given at Mount Rainier Chapter, WSMTA, in Fall 2005, and the Kinney's, who live in Washington, were a huge success among students and teacher's attending.

How much "creativity" and "improvisation" goes on in your studio?

Do we nourish the spirits of our students?

Would you care to say how this quote affects you?

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#932854 - 08/04/07 05:49 AM Re: "Creativity for All"
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4264
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
What Akiko and Forrest Kinney are saying is that the student needs to learn to improvise ... to get about the piano without the straight-jacket of a score ... and thereby gain tactile and aural insight to the piano’s amazing power of free modulation.

We don’t need to nourish spirits ... improvisation breeds confidence ... and confidence spawns creativity.

#932855 - 08/06/07 02:33 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I would like to put more creativity in the composing and improvisation area this year and start earlier with my beginners as an aural development using imagination in short spurts.

I have usually waited until the kids could write pitches on the staff fairly accurately.

Someone said in postings last week "Music is sound not ink" and that registered with me in many ways. And then this quote by the Kinney's reminded me of my intentions when I first met them heard their program presented in Fall 2005. In addition, all the info about Suzuki last week was inspiring about what little ones can do musically.

I haven't kept my intention, so this being a new school year starting, here comes the intention again now written as a goal. I want to make progress in more creative keyboard exploration as the kids begin - and use their little tunes and ideas, too.

#932856 - 08/06/07 02:39 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I love doing improvisation and composition exercises, but so many of my students have half hour lessons ( \:\( \:\( \:\( ) that I just don't have time for it. Perhaps if they went for an hour I could spare ten minutes for just messing around the piano and jamming.

So the short answer to your question is, "Not much," unfortunately.
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

#932857 - 08/06/07 03:39 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
I do some improvisation with my students but it's true that it takes a small chunk out of the lesson. I plan to do more this year. The Music Teachers' Association of California (MTAC) publishes an improvisation syllabus and another book called "Games & Activities For Improvisation". Improvisation has become part of Certificate of Merit (our statewide adjudicated event each spring).

For the past few years our annual MTAC Convention has featured students who present both prepared and unprepared improvisations. One of the more interesting activities that I saw was when the students picked a slip of paper from a hat and then had to improvise what was listed. The first round was all about emotions (anger, worry, love, joy, sadness, guilt, etc..) Sketches of each were on an overhead projector for the audience to see. The student played his 'spur of the moment' improvisation and then the audience had to guess which emotion it was.

The next round featured various sentences about California, for example, "Sunset over the Pacific Ocean", "The California Gold Rush", "Hiking in Yosemite", etc... The titles were posted on the overhead for the audience to see and students one by one picked from the hat and performed an unrehearsed improvisation. Then we had to guess what it was. The whole event was quite impressive. Students ranged in age from about 11 to late high school.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#932858 - 08/07/07 03:49 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hi dumdumdiddle,

MTACalifornia sounds really coordinated in developing improvisation if it has an Improvisation Syllabus and Games & Activities for Improvisation, and it is part of your annaul statewide adjudicated event. And, I love hearing about the prepared and unprepared improvisations at MTAC Convention!

Is it possible for a WSMTA (Washington State)to purchase these books from MTAC? I would value having these curriculum tools.



#932859 - 08/07/07 04:02 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I've been thinking about creativity and improvisation for days now since I read the quote and posted it above.

Perhaps there needs to be a "creativity awareness" where you give the kids something to think about to stimulate their creativity and imaginations in the first place, before you take it to the keyboard, and then to the music staff (optional step).

Philip Johnston's (PractiveSpot site - "Interview" column asked questions of kids to discover their reaction to a "creative" question. The questions were something like:
1) Name three things you don't want for your birthday.
2) Name four things that don't belong in a refrigerator.

Adding some fun things to talk and laugh about may be a big stimulation for being able to be creative and "free" to improvise.

Anything that eases tension at lessons is a good thing in my mind.

Maybe preparation is everything by opening the door to "out of the box" thinking?

#932860 - 08/07/07 05:17 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
It may be possible to purchase the books from MTAC. Here's their website:


It's quickest to send them an email rather than call them; they seem to respond faster.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#932861 - 08/10/07 02:21 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Akiko and Forrest Kinney will be program speakers at Mount Rainier Chapter - WSMTA - MTNA during the September 2007 to June 2008 year.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about our chapter activities I would be happy to provide information - and we have a website, too.

The Kinneys have written books on improvisation, also.

#932862 - 08/12/07 09:02 PM Re: "Creativity for All"
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15093
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
One of the most important things about improvisation that is often overlooked, is that is should be done in groups. If that just means the teacher and student, that works too. It is much more rewarding than trying to do it alone.

It's also important to set parameters for the student so they aren't overwhelmed with too many keys to choose from, trying to sound good, etc. In fact, for those who are a bit worried about improv, perhaps making the goal something like "make it sound angry" or "make it sound happy" will free them up to think in simple gestures rather than individual notes (Ravel composed in gestures and then filled in the actual notes later).

This is hard for even me to do, however. One just has to be committed to get to it in a half hour lesson, that's all. It is *AS IMPORTANT* if not more than many of the other things we stress in our lessons. We are all hard-wired to appreciate good music, I think, and even though we may have varying tastes, we all can understand well-written music. By encouraging this music-making part in our students, they will then better understand what a composer was trying to get it with the notes chosen. It can also help reduce or eliminate performance anxiety. And you may even discover, that you student enjoys composing (I think every student shoudl try to compose as well).

A good book if you're really not sure what to do, is Music By Me published by FJH music (I think I've mentioned this before, and no, I don't get a kickback for it :p ).
private piano/voice teacher FT


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