Creativity, Education and Music

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Saxophone By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Saxophone
Last updated: 25/04/2017
Tags: creativity, education, music, primary, saxophone

I have always considered myself to be a creative person and believe that there is creative potential in all people (Guildford 1987 p.36).   This is also supported by Michael Rosen, who states that we are all born as ‘reflective and interactive beings’ (Rosen, pg 10)  and all have creative potential. This was my initial response when I first started to consider creativity but subsequently I have considered what is meant by creativity and have found the process intriguing, affirming and challenging.  Guildford (1987) supports the notion that creativity is hard to define, stating that he discusses the subject with hesitation.  When reflecting on the meaning of creativity, specifically what it means to me, I can empathise with Guildford’s hesitation.  

Csikzentmihalyi (2004) describes ‘flow’ in his TED talk, a process in which he argues we are at our most creative.  His research stemmed from his need to understand the route to happiness.The description of this process resonated with me as I can apply it to my own experiences of creativity: I believe that I am in flow on a regular basis whilst playing the saxophone.  He describes being completely involved in a task, feeling a sense of ecstasy, achievable challenge and the reward being a product of your creativity.  He argues that the process may give meaning to people’s lives without any material gain.  Craft et. al (2007) speak of the immersion of the creative process in children, again indicating an immersive level of consciousness.  

The creative process as immersive process is also supported by Vygotsky (1967) when he states that a characteristic distinct to humans is their ability to create in their minds, again suggesting that the mind play an important role in the creative process.

I am in agreement with the researches mentioned above in that I believe that creativity is as much a level of consciousness as well as an outcome, no matter what the level of creativity.  I can see the huge benefit this level of consciousness can have on both adults and children alike and believe that it forms an important part of the creative process.

Maslow (1943) supports Csikzentmihalyi’s theory that creativity is linked with happiness or well-being. Maslow describes self actualisation and it’s links with creativity in his seminal paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’.  Maslow indicates that self actualisation occurs when physiological, safety, love and esteem needs have been met. Furthermore, he argues that satisfied people may display high levels of creativity owing to their, arguably, good well-being.  I feel that creativity is more likely to occur when a person or child has had their basic needs met but believe that their may be other factors that affect a person’s creative potential.  Interestingly, Maslow later retracted his theory that self actualisation leads to creativity by indicating that some of the most eminently creative minds were not psychologically healthy (Maslow 1974).

Glaveanu (2010) writes of the exclusivity of the ‘he-pardigm’, in which he describes the few who are creative geniuses, implying that this ‘gift’ is innate.  Interestingly, Maslow also indicates that he believes that some creativity is innate and reserved for the ‘innately creative’ (Maslow 1943, pg 383), describing creative people as being creative whether their basic needs have been met or not.  He implies that it may be possible to distinguish between the creativity of those who are experiencing self actualisation and those who are innately creative (Maslow, 1943).  This is an important idea to consider as I believe that we all have the potential to be creative (Guildford, 1971) but that there are different kinds of creativity.

This idea was further developed by Kaufman and Beghetto (2009).  They make the distinction between types of creativity by defining the ‘Four C’s of Creativity (Kaufman and Beghetto 2009) based upon the concepts of Big ‘C’ and little ‘c’ (Craft, 19..).  It was important for me to make the distinction between creativity that happens on a daily basis (little ‘c’) and the eminent creative geniuses who have have had a significant impact on their field (big ‘C’) and everything in between (Kaufman and Beghetto 2009).  Duffy (2010) supports this distinction between and develops it, emphasising the importance of little ‘c’ in the classroom stating that it provides children with avenues for learning.  Having this understanding of creativity may facilitate a deeper understanding of how to teach for creativity.

This distinction between the different types of creativity is also supported by Csikzentmihalyi’s (1999) work on Systems Model of Creativity in which creativity is presented as ‘an interaction between the domain, the field, and the person’ (Csikzentmihalyi 1999 pg 4, cited by Kaufman and Beghetto 2009).  This research relates to the Big ‘C’ element of creativity and writes of the domain being an area of study; the field being a facilitator and the person.

This is an interesting concept for me as it makes a distinction between the person and the field which in many cases was a teacher: it is important to me to provide children with a creative learning environment in order for them to fulfill their creative potential whether it be Big ‘C’ or little ‘c’.  It seems to me that, although the research is based on big ‘C’, it can easily be applied to everyday situations.  This confirms my notion that creativity takes many different forms and is not necessarily the realm of the creative genius.  This is important to me as I believe that creativity can be nurtured in any person.

Kaufman and Beghetto (2009) further develop Big ‘C’ and little ‘c’ by developing mini ‘c’ and pro ‘c’.  Mini ‘c’ was designed to ‘encompass the creativity inherent in the learning process’ (Kaufman and Beghetto 2009, pg 3), catering for the original and personal daily creative thinking that goes on in the classroom,  whilst pro ‘c’ was designed to encompass those who are professional creators but not eminent (Kaufman and Beghetto 2009).  This reaffirms the notion that creativity can take many forms.

Creativity for me also implies a certain flexibility of thought or divergent thinking, relating to the diversity and change that we face in everyday life (Robinson, 1999).  Creativity may offer us with the skills to achieve our goals, both on a personal level and on a social level (Glaveanu 2010).  Flexibility of the mind is also identified by teachers as a trait of a creative learner, as well as finding a novel idea (Athanasios et.al. 2011).


Katie Black Flute Teacher (Norwich)

About The Author

Hello! I am a Saxophone, Flute and Guitar teacher based in Norwich with many years experience in teaching, composing and performing.




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