Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 8

Musings
Jane Magrath

Creative being and the disciplined life

I

magine living our lives sans creativity. We would never vary our diets or the kinds of books we read. We would dress in similar styles every day, no variety, ever. Inevitably we would slow down our personal growth. We would minimize the “highs” in life, and reduce possibilities for personal discovery. And, we would probably practice piano by mindlessly repeating the same things over and over. Some individuals surround themselves with so much stimulation that finding time in the day to breathe and reflect can be difficult. These people become wired to thrive on all this information, and they are able to input a substantial amount of data from different sources: friends, travel, newspapers, television, the internet, background music, and so on. Sometimes they have a daily routine that helps them assimilate the stimuli, and sometimes they do not. Without creativity and variety in life, we may use the same analogies year after year, teach from the same materials over and over, stick only to our favorite pieces, and teach every student in the same way. We know that these ways work, so we continue to employ them. Ultimately, however, a lack of variety in the ways we organize our lives can be detrimental to our ability to grow, to produce our own stimuli, to effectively perform and/or teach. To enrich, enliven, and energize our teaching and our lives, mindfulness throughout the day is required in our choices and habits.

Ritual could be considered by some as a sameness that promotes the lack of creativity that I referred to in the opening. Instead, Tharp suggests that we allow the ritual activity or activities, usually occurring at the beginning of the day, to set the mind free by fostering space, freedom, and reflection. Beethoven began each day with a ritual. He took a daily walk, during which he would scribble notes of a theme that might come to mind in his notebook. He used the walk to free his mind, and to prepare for his work that day.2 It is reported that Pablo Casals also maintained a ritual, which he felt was essential to his daily life. He would go to the piano and play two preludes and fugues of Bach, saying that he could not think of doing otherwise to start the day. He used this time to rediscover the musical world and enter into his musical being for creativity in his practice and other endeavors throughout the day.

Take time to be curious
The tendency to become rushed or over-extended plagues many teachers and performers. We have schedules to keep, people to help, music to practice, and many other obligations. When I am over-extended, even if things appear to get done, I feel cranky, impatient, and depleted. I often do not allow myself a routine that is crucial to my balanced being: cherished time each day to acknowledge my own curiosity and follow that spark as it creeps in at various times. For me, that one issue—being able to follow my own curiosity—spurs personal creativity. It allows “what if ” moments to occur and opens the door to new ideas and discoveries that enrich me. It refreshes my teaching and practice, and it stimulates practically all aspects of my day

Set a ritual and keep it
In her book The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp, a choreographer, discusses the importance of ritual.1 The daily ritual, whether it be exercise, journaling, yoga, meditation, or a combination of activities, sets a positive routine that frames the beginning of each day for the committed artist. It serves to warm up the mind, to renew the spirit, and to set the framework for development of the day’s plan. It is this daily ritual that bridges the path for the person onward into the creative part of the days’ future activities.

Reflect on surprises
If we let ourselves be surprised by occurrences or situations during the day, then we smile. Perhaps an “Aha!” moment arises. It could be a poignant realization in a lesson, ripples of water in a fountain, a bird on a limb, or a beautiful vista on a frequently traveled path that stops us for a moment and allows the experience to peak. I once heard someone say that, “Without surprise, boredom would win the Nobel Prize.” Many creative persons take time to journal and reflect in writing daily. This space allows the perspective of surprises and other thoughts that arise in the subconscious to be examined, cared for, and ultimately expanded. Beethoven’s sketchbooks were his workshop for ideas, his first step in creating a new work.

Jane Magrath is Regents’ Professor and holds the Grant Endowed Chair in Piano Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma, where she was named Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts. She has more than thirty-five volumes published with Alfred Publishing, and her book The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature has become a classic reference work for pianists throughout the country. Jane Magrath was named the first recipient of the MTNA/Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Piano Pedagogy. She has published numerous articles in keyboard journals and currently serves as an editor for the Piano Pedagogy Forum. The

Just do it
All successful artists and teachers have points where they resist the initial stages of a project, their work, or a new habit. We are adept at finding reasons not to take something on, and yet these reasons are obstacles to the creative life. Simply going to the piano to practice (getting there) must be accomplished, and then the fun,
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012

revival of interest in the United States in the standard classical piano teaching literature has been attributed in part to her work.
8
CLAVIER COMPANION



Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Contents
Editor's Page: New discoveries
Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Tech Tips
First Looks: What Music Means To Me
New music reviews
CD & DVD reviews
News & Notes
Pupil Saver
Keyboard Kids' Companion
Advertiser Index
Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Contents
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Editor's Page: New discoveries
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 5
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 7
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 9
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 11
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 12
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 13
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 14
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 15
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 16
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 17
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 19
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 20
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 21
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 22
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 23
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 24
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 25
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 26
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 27
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 28
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 29
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 31
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 32
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 33
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 34
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 35
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 37
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 39
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 40
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 41
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 43
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 44
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 45
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Tech Tips
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 48
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 49
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - New music reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 51
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 52
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 53
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - CD & DVD reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 55
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - News & Notes
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Pupil Saver
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 58
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 59
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Keyboard Kids' Companion
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 61
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Advertiser Index
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 63
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover4
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