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Every Child a Composer

Music Education in an Evolutionary Perspective

Nicholas Bannan

This book breaks new ground in drawing on evolutionary psychology in support of advocacy for music education, and the presentation of innovative musical pedagogy. The book adopts the perspective that musical experience is the birthright of all human beings through the decisive role it played in the evolution of our species, the traces of which we carry in our genes. The author draws on scientific developments in acoustics, neuroscience, linguistics, archaeology and anthropology to examine theories that have emerged powerfully during the last twenty years and which argue for the significance of the practice of music as foundational to human culture. This position is examined in parallel with research into how children learn musically, and the role that creative decision making plays in this. A series of strategies is presented that explores collective creativity which draws on vocalisation, the use of gesture, and instinctive responses to harmony to develop musical imagination.

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Chapter 3: Music education and creativity


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Music education and creativity

The principal theme of this book is, then, to propose, model and examine approaches to the development of musical skills and experience that are founded on creative opportunity. This is what links the evolutionary account of human musicality to outcomes in childhood learning and the potential for lifelong engagement in music-making.

Creativity often appears an over-used word, adopted to cover a variety of approved behaviours on the one hand, or the assumed qualities required for certain professions on the other. ‘Creatives’ are those who write the advertising copy that sells products, as opposed to those who make or even invent them. The ‘creative team’ in a theatrical or film production are those who make decisions responsible for the sound or look of the product, but not the musicians or actors who work to their requirements. Increasingly, in educational contexts, creativity seems to have become associated with the use of digital technology as a more attractive and student-centred tool for learning than conventional methods.

Rob Pope (2002) analysed theories of creativity and their adoption in artistic criticism and education, beginning with the creation stories of early civilisations. His careful disentanglement of beliefs about creativity identifies in what ways teachers can plan for creative experiences from which children learn. Margaret Boden (2004) distinguished between ‘psychological’ creativity, which represents the breakthroughs we all experience for ourselves because we have inherited the human capacity for multi-dimensional learning,...

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