So, you’ve read the brief, defined your boundaries, created a masterpiece… and then everything changes. What do you do when the goalposts move?
This will be a familiar scenario for anyone working to commission within the creative industries. But what does it have to do with education? And what can we learn from the fickle capriciousness of the ‘real world’?
It may come as no surprise that this situation has arisen for me personally (this may seem rather music-specific but bear with me). Last-minute change is, in fact, a constant pitfall when writing to order. Particularly when composing for video. This is largely due to the fact you will initially be working to a rough edit, which is then invariably ‘tightened up’.
What then happens is that all the work done to ensure your music reflects the pacing of the video is now out of sequence. The editor and/or director may not be too concerned. They will still be working to the underlying beat of the music. And this should still work (unless they have completely changed tack) – but the phrasing will now be out.
The solution lies in rediscovering your original response to the creative brief. Even though phrases may need to be shortened or tempos quickened, the sounds, motifs and melodies will still be relevant. And you now have the opportunity to refine and edit your work to make it more concise… ‘leaner’.
Having such a task imposed on you may feel like an unwanted extra demand. But it will rarely make what you have produced worse. More often, it will make things that little bit ‘snappier’. And this is where the learning comes in.
Good Critical Friends
We’ve spoken a lot about giving children free rein to express themselves through creative learning. We know we need to give them space to express themselves. We understand the importance of resisting our natural urge to steer or lead. And our pupils, thereby, have ownership of their creative work.
However, an important part of this process comes at the end. That is when we invite pupils to observe and comment on one another’s work. They are encouraged to be ‘good critical friends’, offering suggestions for improvement and further development.
Humility & Flexibility
This is the point at which children have the opportunity to craft what they have made. To go beyond the original creative impulse and stretch themselves. And that requires both humility and flexibility.
It is hard for anyone to take criticism, however well-intentioned. Yet, the ability to accept and accommodate other people’s ideas is an important skill. That way, we grow beyond our own self-imposed limitations. Which is where collaboration can lead to rewarding results.
Where the Magic Happens
It can be frustrating to have a teacher, editor, director or whoever ‘meddle’ with your precious creation. But remember, they too will have a creative vision. It may not be quite the same as our own – but this is where the magic happens.
A good deal of great art, especially in the world of music, has come from apparently conflicting partnerships. Lennon and McCartney (The Beatles), Townsend and Daltrey (The Who), Waters and Gilmore (Pink Floyd), Sumner and Copeland (The Police) and Simon & Garfunkel are examples that spring readily to mind. No doubt Gilbert & George, too, have their differences – but that is less my area of expertise.
Conflict resolution, compromise and mutual acceptance are all by-products of the artistic process. In fact, this is precisely why creative pursuits are such a powerful tool for social learning. As educators, we all know how important those things are – even if they may not feature in any SATs.
In the end, somebody else moving the goalposts may just be the artistic nudge we need. Learning to accept and understand other people’s ideas and opinions can only be a good thing. And it is one more step towards realizing potential we may not know we already had.
Now, can somebody please explain how Gaelic Football works?