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Posts tagged ‘Drawing’

Pushing the boat out: Creativity in the Open

Kamloops. Creativity in the Open. Out in the open. The Wilderness stretches as far as the eye can see, and there is water in the valley, snow on the distant mountains, etched clouds above, and wonderful smiles to surround us on the TRU (Thompson Rivers University) campus here in Canada. It was an opportunity to push boundaries and explore. My appetite for learning is large and this was a feast.

The convergence of beautiful surroundings, people, thought, has been magic over the past few days during the Creativity in the Open event, organised by Tanya Dorey. It has been a privilege to share so much with these people. It started as a conversation at an online meeting between academics from diverse fields – a curriculum designer, a biologist, a philosopher, and a musician. It was our ‘play-date’ where we could talk and snatch a precious few moments to know one another better than text-base interactions allow. (there’s a story connecting that meeting to the event that just happened, and that will be in the collaborative magazine Kintsugim issue coming out in about a week)

There is an inherent joy for me, in being at a place and an event where creativity is valued, welcomed, and fostered. I knew that I came bringing something that would be new for people – playing instruments and giving them the tools to make some recognisable sounds in a short space of time. Working together in different ways than the everyday desk environment provides, and using a different medium to convey creativity – sound. I would be pushing people, but there were also opportunities for people to push me. Read more

I, myself, as a tree

(3 min read) My son used to go for long walks with us and his grandparents and as we followed the footpaths through the woods he would look up, stretching through his open fingertips and say, ‘tall like a tree!’ It is an enduring and lovely memory of mine. Today I asked my class to do a related activity, having to do with the concept of self, and we nearly had enough time to discuss the takeaways. My university music students paired up and set about drawing their partner as a tree, or some form of vegetation of their choosing. The instructions were to NOT tell or show the other person your drawing.

This caused much hilarity with my room full of music students. It began with a few people saying, but I don’t know how to draw?!? but despite the lack of formal training, everyone got on with it and there were smiles and giggles and there were a few questions – what about? How do I? I assured them that there were no wrong approaches or wrong drawings. It was fine.

After a few minutes, when they had finished, I asked them to use another piece of paper and this time to draw themselves as a tree or plant. Oooh, this was more challenging. I had in mind a couple of iterations – but we only had time for a first drawing. If we had longer we could have drawn ourselves as our ideal tree, or as the tree we think others perceive us to be. As it was, just the act of drawing a tree-self-portrait was perfect for today.

Lastly we went around the room and showed, first the self-image and then the other person’s portrait. They were always different, and some were heartwarmingly thought through.

…She is an iris, because it is beautiful, complex, and a lot stronger than it looks…

and that self portrait was of a cactus in a pot.

How often do we tell people the good we see in them?

Without communication, there is only guesswork, assumption, and potential for misunderstanding. So much of teaching is about communication.

I didn’t have a partner as there were an even number of students, but I did draw a tree and also asked the internet what sort of tree I would be, and I got two replies, one in words and one in ink. My tree was mainly lines, and it went off the page. (I think of myself as a big tree, with old roots, and outstretched branches.)

“A fairly tall tree with many different sized branches growing in different directions with a sturdy trunk that holds the branches together and also moves gently in the breeze.” – Blinkey

by Ronald_2008

Beyond the box

We’ve all heard about thinking outside the box. How about thinking outside the bucket? What about thinking outside…

Outside the discipline?

Outside the medium?

How about opening your mind beyond the box?

In couple of recent classes I asked my students to show me music. I did’t want an essay – did’t want to have words. I want them to experience music in another way, and then to be able to recognise and communicate this to others.

Why?

Because we are all unique. I will never really know you, I cannot be a spectator inside your experience, your mind. For me that means that as a teacher I will never really know my students or as a performer, my audience, but if I can learn to communicate and experience in different ways, then perhaps I will have more of a chance of connecting. –or at least of gaining and giving a window into that communication.

I suppose it stems from a constructivist approach to learning, that we do and the more different ways you do something, the more likely it is to stick and sink in:

Write it. Read it. Speak it. Hear it. Feel it. Touch it. Taste it

(ok that is going too far for most academic subjects. We would all prefer not to eat our words… unless written on rice paper and then that is a totally fun exercise).

The idea of doing those things gives a holistic experience and often opens our minds to seeing whatever ‘it’ is in a new light. Read more

Listening to expression – putting phrases to paper

Today in class we did something different: we drew. That wasn’t all we did, but it was a fantastic catalyst for the session and the students and I thought you might join us…

The students came prepared to play something on their instruments and they knew that we were following up the MUS654 lesson on the session on Phrasing and Musicality. They were slightly surprised when I gave them each big sheets of paper. What were these for?? I wanted them to experience thinking of the music in a different way, and asked them to create a representation of what they heard. This was something that we could discuss and that the performer could see, take in, and respond to. Being presented with a clean slate and being told that anything goes is not always the way we are taught to learn. It can be really refreshing to un-peel the layers of expectation and to be allowed to express yourself.

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It was a pleasure to see the students explore the music and different ways of communication and understanding and playing. It was a fun session and a challenge to have a go exploring representations in a different medium.

One of the students gave me permission to share part of her performance so you could join us and have a go putting your pen/pencil to paper and see where it leads you….

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