An Investigation and Application of the Principles and Nature of Creative Problem Solving in Music

November 10, 2009 / By: Holly Price

The purpose of this theoretical study was to examine the principles and nature of creative problem solving and the pedagogical application of those in the music classroom.  The sub problems studied were (1) the nature of creative problem solving; (2) the nature of creative problem solving in music; (3) the aspects of creative problem solving which are applicable in music education; and (4) the components of creative problem solving which are useful in the development and evaluation of lesson plans for the music classroom.  The tenets of general education and music education theorists and educators were analyzed, and lesson activities which support those precepts were collected and evaluated.

The results of the research support the inclusion of creative problem solving in the music classroom to cultivate creative thinking; authentic problem solving; higher level thinking; differentiated instruction; and interesting, challenging, and intrinsically motivating activities.  Once the students have built a strong foundation of knowledge, the teacher's role becomes that of a facilitator as students apply this knowledge and utilize their creativity to solve authentic musical problems and develop higher level thinking skills.  These activities are hands-on, which allows for differentiated instruction as students use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile skills to create music.  Because the students are fully involved in the process and are able to implement their ideas, the activities are stimulating, appropriately challenging, and motivate them intrinsically (rather than being driven by external rewards such as grades or praise).

Although music educators and philosophers support constructivist approaches, they have not been applied into the curricula with greater force because of the lack of resources. For this reason, lesson activities which promote creative problem solving were collected, and they serve as resources to implement into the music classroom. Many of the lessons were gathered from constructivist Dr. Jackie Wiggins, a prominent leader in the field of music. In addition, a chart (found in chapter 3) and a rubric (located in chapter 5) are included to assist the reader in evaluating the effectiveness of plans.  It is hoped that these structures can be employed to design new activities.

The research concluded that an environment rich in discovery learning fosters creative, independent, and energized students.  They will be the next generation of educators, performers, composers, arrangers, and historians.  We need to empower them to take on those roles.

If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always gotten.(1) -unknown

(1) Dr. David Myers, "Music Education as Contemplative Practice: Collaborating, Improvising, Transforming," (seminar at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, July 19, 2009).