Reinier Maliepaard

About a Pilot Project on Music Theory

In his A Philosophy of Music Education (1989, p. 69), Bennett Reimer states the following: "Music education should help people share as fully as possible in the created expressive qualities of pieces of music, so they can experience the explorations and discoveries of feeling captured in those pieces. Music education should also involve people in the creation of music to the fullest extent possible, to experience their own explorations and discoveries of feeling through the act of creation."

Inspired by Reimer's view, I started a pilot project music theory in September 2013 at the ArtEZ Conservatorium, that should lead to a new curriculum in approximately two years. The project is based on three statements: first, without creativity there is no development (psychological, social, economic); second, the goal of education is (ideally) the development of creativity and insight in one's own personal experience and growth; third, creativity is the basic condition for an effective process of music theoretical education. Instead of a primarily cognitive approach with the stress on mental activities, my project has relations with a constructivist approach: experiencing and reflecting on experiences as a way of understanding and building knowledge of the world (inner, social etc. and of course musical).
In addition, we know from brain research that intelligence and creativity are separate, not genetically fixed abilities that can be modified by the environment and schooling. So, school curriculum's should emphasize on developing their students' creativity. Creativity invokes personal involvement and emotional responses, which positively affects learning, memory, and recall. Students will remember more curriculum content when it is linked with activities that evoke emotions.
The central experiential task for students is composing. In my talk, I'll discuss methodological choices and present the first results.