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The Creative Life

By Taryn Wright - Mini Maestros Essendon North Franchisee

"We are all born creative, we just get it educated out of us"

This is a quote that really resonated with me once I started my music studies at university. Coming from a traditional, classical music background where there was little leeway for interpretation, and a strong belief that things could be 'wrong' when playing, it was a concept that I had never thought about until studying music therapy and music education. Once I let go of all my concerns about playing something incorrectly, I noticed my musicianship improved, as did my confidence to experiment, make mistakes and then to try something different.

Creativity is often associated with the arts, but is essential in all aspects of life. It is an essential component of problem solving, adaptability, strategising and development of new ideas and products. However, it is something that has been shown to be declining since the 1990's. In childhood, experimentation and creativity comes naturally, but it can disappear as we age. Some say its decline is linked to the emphasis on product, not process within our education system as reflected by the focus on testing and exam results. As educators, parents, role models and carers of children, it’s important that we nurture rather than stifle expression and exploration in children.

This is what led me to Mini Maestros. I get to spend my time allowing children to explore, express and create. We worry less about the end and more about the way we get there. I witness first-hand the confidence that comes with creative play.

Some of these play activities can be as simple as handing a child an instrument and seeing what they choose to do. In classes, I watch children experiment all the time. Last term, we were using single tone blocks that are 'meant' for tapping. The children however found a multitude of uses for them - some that I'd never considered before. I watched the younger babies explore their uses, putting things in them, carrying things around, rattling the beaters in them rather than tapping. I had one class that became pirates and used them as spy-glasses and they would freeze as statues when the music stopped. One class pretended they were rolling pins, some made letters out of their instruments and others pretended they were drinking glasses. All these things led to an evolving lesson plan, where the goal of responding to phrasing and changes within the music was achieved, but the children had their own 'take' on how to demonstrate their understanding.

Whilst free play is important, another type of creativity that we encourage in our classes is of a more structured nature. Role-play and performance are structured activities where guidelines are set out, but children are learning how to work within this structure and present something that is their own. Listening to verses that children make-up in our stories such as 'Did You Ever?' and listening to chime bar interpretations of rhymes such as 'Dr Shelbourne'. I love hearing them explore different ways to make rain sounds on instruments, or stories about what kind of silly things animals could be doing. I've listened to children singing in 'fluffy' voices, 'angry' voices, and 'jelly' voices. After 16 years in Mini Maestros, I still have children that come up with ideas I've not heard before. Some are hilarious, some genius, some come up frequently, but all are creative.

The arts provide an excellent avenue to the development of creativity, but it need not be restricted to artistic endeavours. The best thing of all we can do with children is to join in and make a game of everyday activities. Be silly, make mistakes and just experiment to see where you end up.

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