Last week, we talked about preparation. How creativity can give confidence in meeting challenges. And how, in the end, you should be happy with your own work & please yourself.
How prescient then, when one of the composing commissions cited fell apart in the final phase. The details are unimportant but, essentially, I was commissioned to write some music for a promotional film. The footage had been planned, shot and edited. I had been then drafted in to provide a soundtrack. I was given a guide track to work to and a fairly vague brief of what was required.
It became clear, right at the end of the process, that the people commissioning this piece had not made sufficient preparation. They had not fully thought-through what the promo was for or what it should say. So, in receiving the finished piece, the top decision-maker (who had been absent throughout the process) then decided it was not what she wanted.
Substantial Creative Work
Clearly, there had been a lack of proper communication in this instance. The production team (myself included) will still be paid for our work, so nothing has been lost from that point of view. However, nobody wants to be part of a project that is seen to have been a failure. But was it really?
The fact remains that a substantial piece of creative work has been made. The camera angles are magnificent, the lighting crisp and sharp. There is a terrific human element, a clear narrative and – of course – a cracking soundtrack!
Doing The Best You Can
Whilst it is disappointing to know that this footage will now not be aired, I can personally take comfort in the fact that I was happy with my part in it. As with all things creative, it is the process itself that is the real reward.
Like most artists, I have serious doubts about whether my output is ‘any good’. However, I have learned – as previously discussed – to please myself. To do the best work I can with the tools and skills available.
Inspire & Encourage
When we set children a creative task, there is no money at stake. Nobody will judge whether or not their work has met a brief or ticked the right boxes for funding. The purpose of providing them with artistic challenges is to challenge them.
Obviously, what some pupils produce may be subjectively ‘better’ than others. Indeed, we like to model examples of good work. However, this is in order to inspire and encourage the whole class, not to pit one against the other.
This kind of positive cooperation is an invaluable life skill. And if individuals learn the strength to say ‘this is what I have done and I’m happy with it’, they will develop resilience for future collaborations. Pride in one’s achievements should not rely on the opinions of others. Whilst we all like to be appreciated and receive praise the true worth of our creativity is what it means to us personally.
Perhaps, in assessing children’s creative work, we could bear this in mind. Rather than saying ‘that’s good’ or ‘you’ve done well’, we could ask ‘are you happy with that?’ or ‘what do you like about it?’ It’s always good to provide alternatives and suggestions for improvement. But, perhaps, if a child is unyielding because they are happy with their work, our only response, surely, must be ‘please yourself’.