Take Note

Taking Notes - Dance Notes creativity blog for teachersThe other day, something  sparked an idea for a blog post. Sadly, I’ve forgotten what it was.  Which got me thinking about the power of writing things down – take note!

In my studio, where I spend the majority of my working hours, I keep two piles of recycled paper. These are from things that have been printed or posted, don’t need keeping and are blank on one side. One stack lives next to my laptop and another on the studio desk. I use them to take note of ideas, to-do items, phone messages, etc. as they occur to me.

Take Note

There are many circumstances in which going ‘direct to digital’ is an advantage. Right now, for example, I am typing into a word processor. That way, I can quickly correct and edit as I go. I will then be able to easily make amendments and revisions later. Similarly, when working on a new music composition, I will generally work straight into my Digital Audio Workstation.

However, when an idea for a song lyric appears, or a potential blog topic pops into my head, it is always useful to write that down immediately and manually.  When it comes to audio, I have the digital equivalent of a notebook (a portable hard-disk recorder). With this, I can quickly capture an idea for later retrieval; something I would be hard-pressed to do on paper. So, ultimately, it’s the making notes that is important. rather than the method in which this is done.

Mental Clutter

The point is that sometimes an idea can be fleeting and needs to be grabbed immediately. If not, it may either be forgotten entirely or remain as one of many fragments of unattended business in the back of your mind. These little idealets (technical term), if not released into the physical world, can quickly build into mental clutter. And a cluttered brain becomes sluggish.

Think of your own laptop or PC. If you don’t perform regular maintenance, it can slow to a crawl. Similarly, if you don’t organise your documents into folders, they will become a confused mess on your desktop. Even the most unconventional mind needs order and clarity. So, rather than landing yourself with a huge clear-up down the road, avoid congestion by noting things down as they occur to you.

Initial Spark

Of course, you could then just be displacing the problem. These notes, if left to proliferate, will be just as disorganized and impenetrable as unattended thoughts. Knowing that an idea is safely noted allows you to attend other matters until you are ready to act upon it. But you also need to cultivate the habit of organising and nurturing impulses whilst they are still fresh. 

This is particularly important in the case of creative ideas . The initial spark needs to be kindled before it goes cold. By rendering it visible in the first place, you have already greatly increased the chances of catching a flame. But, in order to build a creative blaze, that will need to be fed before it goes out. OK, enough of the tortured fire imagery – maybe I have too much time to burn!

Remind & Recap

Younger children have new ideas, thoughts and experiences all the time. Their minds are still malleable and able to recall information readily. Yet, since so much is new to them, points of reference are harder to come by. So, whilst physically noting things down is less necessary, regular reminders and recaps are important.

At the beginning of any creative session with young pupils, it is therefore useful to look back over what was done last time. On the one hand, a week is a very long time for a child. On the other, remembering what they did a week ago should not be difficult, given the right prompts.

Precious Moments

For the teacher, you will doubtless have notes to which you can refer. But will you remember those little moments of precious creativity and spontaneity your pupils produced? Here again, if you take note of things as they occur, that will ensure nothing is lost or forgotten.

Then you can say to a pupil “do you remember when you did ‘x’?” or “didn’t you have a really good idea for ‘y'”. They will be thrilled you remember and able to then quickly build on their ideas. They, of course, don’t need to know you wrote that down last week. The main thing is that their creativity is rewarded.

Still Can’t Remember…

None of which excuses the fact I still can’t remember what on earth I was going to write about this week. Perhaps it will come back to me. Or perhaps not. Where do forgotten ideas go when we don’t take note?

Now maybe there‘s an idea for a blog…


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