creativity (quotes)

What am I in the eyes of most people? A good-for-nothing, an eccentric and disagreeable man, somebody who has no position in society and never will have. Very well, even if that were true, I should want to show by my work what there is in the heart of such an eccentric man, of such a nobody. - Vincent Van Gogh

When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: "Only stand out of my light." Perhaps someday we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light. - John W. Gardner

So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. - Brenda Ueland

(Judy Anne Johnson Breneman elaborates, "In order to moodle we need to make space for alpha waves to operate in our brain. If we are too exhausted our mind will quickly move into theta (drowsiness) then delta (deep sleep). If we are too focused on a problem or given objective we are using beta waves (consciously focused). Alpha waves bring in that in-between, meditative state where our mind can gather together conscious thoughts and unconscious information in order to create something brand new. Inspiration occurs with a great burst of alpha waves.")

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. - Joseph Chilton Pearce

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. - Pablo Picasso

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening. - Daisaku Ikeda

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one's inner life. And that too is a deed. - Etty Hillesum

Then and there I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future. I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side. I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through the cool mud. - Katharine Butler Hathaway

(Thanks to The Sun, Google, and The Beacon Book of Quotations By Women for finding these for me.)

music learning

About four years ago when he was 6 or 7, Jake asked me to show him how to read music. He'd already been making music of his own for some time, but he'd seen me playing songs other people had written and thought he might like to learn how to do that. I sat down with him to explain how it works, but we both very quickly became frustrated because he was having trouble making sense of the terms and concepts. So we dropped it, and he continued to occasionally make up his own music. I was actually a little relieved, because I figured the longer before he brings his left brain into it, the more he'll be able to expand on his intuitive abilities.

Yesterday morning I was sitting outside on the porch when he yelled at me from inside with a tone of urgency in his voice, "Mama, come here, I need you!" I yelled back, "What do you need?" He yelled back, "I need you to come here to the piano!" The thought flashed through my mind that maybe something had been spilled on it, or who knows what. I yelled, "Is it important? I'm right in the middle of something." He yelled back, "I want you to show me how to read music!" Well, I thought, I guess that's pretty important, so I went inside and sat down with him and explained to him how the keys correspond to the lines and spaces, what the base and treble clefs are, what the time signature means, what a measure is and how it can be divided up, etc. He understood immediately and was playing the song in the video above in about ten minutes.

I left him to work out the next several songs on his own, popping back in occasionally when he had a question. He repeated the same phrases over and over until he could play them to his satisfaction, and I remarked that the repetition was creating muscle memory, so that eventually his brain would be able to almost instantaneously tell his hands what to do when his eyes saw those notes, without him thinking about it or even really trying. I think that's a nicer way of saying "practice makes perfect," which to me is a phrase that evokes a feeling of having expectations put on you, probably based in my own music learning experience in which practicing was practically a moral mandate, and that being perfect was the important thing, rather than just enjoying playing.

He played throughout the day, off and on, every so often taking a break to rest his arms and mind. He said that one of the things he likes about learning this way as opposed to going to a class is that he can better accommodate his own needs when he's not tied into someone else's schedule.