Exploring Links Between Children's Creativity Development and a World Music Education Program

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Lindblom, Shari
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Leon R. de Bruin, Pamela Burnard and Susan Davis

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Music education, in particular world music education, presents the opportunity for children to enhance their creativity as they expand musical understanding and abilities. This can take many forms, including the practice of improvisation that many of the world’s musical traditions feature as an important characteristic, providing a forum for imagination, experimentation, and the association of new and often quite disparate musical ideas. All these aspects can contribute to the enhancement of children’s musical and indeed general creativity (as defined by Beghetto and Kaufman (2007)), through the development of flexibility, fluency and originality in their thinking, and highlights the interdisciplinary nature of these skills. Through developing and examining a pilot program of world music workshops—involving learning West African djembe, Hindustani tabla music, and Javanese gamelan—aimed at primary-school aged children, this study explored the ways children may develop their creativity as they acquire a level of polymusicality. Using qualitative and quantitative assessment via interviews, observation, and psychometric testing (applying both the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (1974), and Webster’s Measure of Creative Thinking in Music II (Webster, 2002)), the potential changes in participants’ musical and general creativity over the course of the program were analysed. In this chapter, I discuss how the qualitative data from the study indicated that a mix of factors contributes to children’s increased creativity, including well-considered inclusion of story-telling and use of metaphor; familiarity and uncertainty; confidence and motivation; improvisation; group dynamics and individualism; enculturation and environmental influences; and musical knowledge and involvement. These findings support a multi-perspective approach to explaining creativity, as advocated by Sternberg and Lubart (1996).The discussion of these findings reveals how these key factors that emerged in the world music workshops are closely linked to some important characteristics of creativity (as proposed by a number of different creativity theories, including Csikszentmihályi (1988), Finke et al (1992), Hennessey & Amabile (1988), Runco & Chand (1995), Starko (2005), and Zenasni et al., (2008)). I identify 12 characteristics or influences that can play an important role in children’s creativity that relate to the key factors from the study. The findings from this study result in the design and development of a ‘Creativity Framework’, which promotes pedagogical environments specifically geared to stimulate children’s creativity, using world music education as the catalyst.

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Creativities in Arts Education, Research and Practice

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Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy

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