Dispelling the Creativity Myth In Music

By Bryce Gorman

“You need to be born with creativity, there is no way to learn it.” Chances are you’ve heard this before in your life, that no one can learn to become more creative and therefore are stuck with the level of artistic creation that they can muster after a day or two of training.

I’m here to tell you that that assumption is dead wrong. The fact is that creativity can be trained. If you think oherwise, bear with me as I explain why the opposite is true.

Creativity is a skill, just like any other. It is a skill used in engineering, architecture, surgeries, and beyond. I’m not quite sure why creativity has been given this god-like pedastal that seperates it from other demanding skills. In my research i’ve found it is partly because of how professionals act when they are asked to explain their process, and respond with how innately it comes to them (this is partly to keep their process a secret, and to appear above the rest of us who have to train our creative faculty). The other part that helps create this myth is that people have tried to train their creativity and failed, consigning to saying that if they try really hard and get nowhere, then it is just a thing left up to fate.

To prove that creativity can be trained, I want you to remember when you were in pre-school or kindergarten or some other time when you were really young. Remember when you were first learning how to colour. I was very bad at colouring: using one colour, scribbling all over the page with no regard to the picture, and scribbling with no design in mind (I was 5, come on). Were you always as good as you are at drawing, or did it take some practice? Did you know to stay in the lines or did someone have to teach you that? Did you inherently select more than a colour or two or did someone show you how using other colours improved your artwork?

If you thought of these techniques on your own, lets try another example. Since drawing is visual and easy to make abstract and concrete, lets continue with that.

Full disclosure, my visual art skills have never progressed beyond drawing a basic stickman, like the one I have below. I have never needed to or wanted to practice my visual art skills, so you can say I am a rather rusty beginner. If you feel your musical skills are similiar to what I just described about my visual art skills then this exercise should definitely hit home about how creativity can absolutely be learned and trained.

Now that I have a lovely drawing, am I done with it or can it be improved upon? That is the essence of creativity: asking, “what can be changed or improved to fit my vision? What do I want this to look like when I am done?” So let us ask ourselves those questions and see the answers we come up with.

I will have my own questions that I will ask and share with you, but for you to truly see how this works, you also need to ask those questions and come up with some answers. There are no wrong answers, only unwritten ones.

Before I continue with my questions, take the time now to write down some of your questions otherwise this exercise wont work.

Okay, ready?

Here we go…

Some of my questions help flesh out the idea of:

1) What kind of stickman this will be, and

2) Some are specific choices between two or more alternatives.

With #1 there are questions like:

Should it be a boy or girl?

Should it have hair?

Do I want to be so detailed as to include hands and feet?

What kind of emotion will it have on its face?

Should I include a background?

Will it have a friend or pet or something else besides the main character?


With #2 there are questions that come to mind like:

What kind of hair should it have? Wavy, spiky, straight, etc.?

Will the hands be sketched or made in greater detail?

Will I include a nose or leave it out?

Should i make the emotion very specific or just a general mood?

What will the background consist of , if there is one?

These questions just scratch the surface of the level of detail you can think about this one simple stickman drawing. Remember, these questions – while not directly related to music – can be applied to music. The stickman is the little piece you have written up that is incomplete, and these questions can be applied to all 7 elements of music.

Now with my stickman I will make some choices about what I want to draw and write those out, for better or worse!

Only a few small improvements but already we are making good progress. With these questions and more you can come up not only with ways to improve your drawing, but also ways to improve your songwriting and composition in music.

About The Author:

If you want help becoming more creative in music and on the guitar, quit struggling by yourself with a trial and error method and join Guitar Lessons Lethbridge. Bryce Gorman runs a guitar school in Lethbridge Alberta, with a passion for helping his students become the best players and songwriters they can be! If you are interested in taking Songwriting On Guitar Lessons In Lethbridge, Alberta, then be sure to contact Bryce!