Dr. Karen Phillip based out of Australia, shares with us how traditional methods of schools suppress creativity, and can have negative effects on those trying to pursue careers in more creative fields.
Songwriting University is a creative online platform that is providing those with musical aspirations a new way to learn, which is hands on, and more effective than a traditional classroom.
The following is curated content written by Dr. Karen Phillip solely for MillBuzz:
It is no surprise that people learn and process information in different ways. Some people are visual learners, while others learn more effectively from audio cues or physical actions. The same can now be said for creative versus analytical minds.
Creative expression plays a vital role in a student’s emotional development, and creative thinking involves students considering and reasoning comprehensively and logically with resourcefulness, imagination, and origination.1 In recent years, it has become clear that the learning environment of the traditional classroom setting at any level can hinder and suppress the creative process.
In a standard college or university, a teacher’s role is to follow the set curriculum, observe and guide students, and critique their progression. This can make a student shut down, doubt themselves and question their ability. The student’s progression and ability are gauged by the teacher’s responses and exam mark.1 It is result-driven.
The prevalence of competition-based learning formats can be detrimental to the learners’ development in terms of self-belief, entrepreneurial skills and ethics.2 Creativity is doing something different. If a student creates something identical to what the teacher created, instructed or wanted, that is not creativity. While an artist or songwriter is responsible for their vision, it is the creative coaching that provides the techniques and opportunities to have it nurtured and flourish.3
A new education option different from the music conservatoriums and universities is offering an unconventional opportunity for prospective songwriters and composers to develop their specialized skill. Songwriting University has emerged as an exclusively online platform that nurtures the creative brain and helps those that want to write songs learn more effectively.
Songwriting University purports that while a songwriter may be able to write good lyrics, however, often become stuck when seeking a publisher or having their work presented to an artist or music producer to develop it into a hit record. Students spend tens of thousands of dollars yet remain isolated from publishers, artists and producers. While a student may graduate with considerable theory knowledge, many struggle to apply their work in the way they intend, and lack the opportunity to make important industry connections. It was this reason that led Michael Blanton and his talented team to start Songwriting University. It also provides songwriters a direct line to the Nashville music industry, as the company is based in the heart of Music City.
Songwriting University is an online training platform that in Michael’s description is ‘unconventional’. He explained “songwriters follow a standard path by going to a normal university for their four-year degree in music. These classes often prepare students to either play in an orchestra, manage bands, or follow a different music path”. Some universities offer short song writing courses yet following the words of educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, FRSA, “schools kill creativity, we do not grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it.” 4
Studies have been conducted indicating that students attending a music conservatory scored significantly higher on creativity tests than university music students.5 Further, research into creativity has been categorized as a continuum from individual to contextual responsibility.6 Where should songwriters and music composers learn their craft? Is standard university education a hindrance or a help to these artistic, curious, creative individuals? Following a set curriculum and being assessed by teachers marking the value of students’ work may be detrimental to the creativity of a student’s capability. Are teachers aiming to create duplicate musicians or guiding students to be distinctive individual entities?
Creative expression plays a crucial role in a student’s emotional development and involves students thinking broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation.4 Michael said, “many schools are unable to teach creative skills, it must be nurtured and developed.” Michael explained how many music students participating in the Songwriting University process came from standard universities yet felt ‘suffocated’ by the education system thereby doubting their ability.
Marc Jordan, an award-winning songwriter and musician of 30 years also struggled with traditional schooling in the past. “Because I am dyslexic, I was unable to get a conventional education at school. I struggled with reading and that has ramifications for the way information is processed. I lacked the kind of linear thinking that leads to most problem solving. Fortunately, the nonlinear aspect of my problem solving worked beautifully within the creative process i.e. songwriting and later painting,” Marc shared. “Music gave me permission to use my brain creatively to solve nonlinear and complex problems. In fact, I believe the creative nonlinear way of problem solving is extremely valuable in the digital age and will give rise to more creative ways to learn and create the world we dream about, a world that serves our better selves.”
In a Music Teachers’ Perceptions of Efficacy report, the results revealed that music teachers do not acknowledge the current use of traditional grading methods as effective for students. Further, they do not believe they are a useful way to measure and evaluate critical thinking or inform music instruction.8 The data revealed that music teachers continue to grade students to fulfil a required syllabus, but meaningful music education and student learning will not evolve until a better model that assesses teacher effectiveness and student progression emerges.7 Objective assessments for music are particularly challenging to assess because the learning outcomes are often measured and evaluated using criteria that involves specific artistic processes.8
Michael described “students need to learn the real craft, learn from the best, learn from those who have already succeeded and are willing to share their experiences and knowledge to make the student’s pathway easier.” Songwriting U launched in December 2019 and boasts over 20 top quality successful iconic songwriters. The students learn creative skills, gain connections and develop confidence as writers. Musical apprentices (as they are referred) are matched with master songwriters or craftsmen and women of their trade, before they collaborate on a song together. Then lyrics are matched with music, before moving onto a producer who can make it a hit song. If a student writes music they need only a few bars before the Songwriting U faculty work to expand and refine the music. Songwriting University also offers online curriculum and exclusive masterclass content through their subscription service. Michael conveyed “students need connections with experienced and successful people to be successful within this competitive music industry.” Students are matched with a successful and experienced music mentor to enhance their development and open industry doors.
Songwriting University is providing a new age solution to creative learning and can help songwriters all over the world achieve their dreams. If you want to be the best, you must learn from the best. This platform not only offers a high-quality learning experience with hit songwriters, but also unique one-on-one access to internationally connected music industry professionals.
1. Kim, K. H. (2011). The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 23(4), 285-295. doi:10.1080/10400419.2011.627805
2. World Economic Forum (2018). https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/education-systems-can-stifle-creative-thought-here-s-how-to-do-things-differently/
3. The Science of Creativity (2019). (https://www.creativelive.com/blog/science-of-creativity/?utm_source=creativeLIVE&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=creativity_creative-education-importance&utm_content=text_link
4. McIntyre, P. (2008). Creativity and Cultural Production: A Study of Contemporary Western Popular Music Songwriting. Creativity Research Journal, 20(1), 40-52. doi:10.1080/10400410701841898
5. Alter, J. B. (1989). Creativity profile of university and conservatory music students. Creativity Research Journal, 2(3), 184-195. doi:10.1080/10400418909534314
6. Kenny, D. (2011). The psychology of music performance anxiety. OUP Oxford.
7. Kyung Hee Kim (2011) The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, Creativity Research Journal, 23:4, 285-295, DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2011.627805
8. Heiter, G. (2016). Music Teachers’ Perceptions of Efficacy: Student Learning Objectives and Data Driven Indicators. Unpublished Certificate of Advanced Study Thesis, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.sacredheart.edu/ edl/15
About Michael Blanton
Michael Blanton, of Brentwood, Tennessee, has had a celebrated career in the national and Nashville music industry. But today finds him in all kinds of artistic and entertainment development, not limited to just artist management.
A native of Amarillo, Texas, Blanton got his start in music as an A&R representative at Word Records in Waco, Texas, moving to Nashville in 1978 to open the company’s office on Music Row. He and business partner Dan Harrell launched Blanton/Harrell Production and Management in 1980 with Amy Grant as their first client. In 1981 with friend Brown Bannister (’75), they created Reunion Records and Reunion Publishing and soon launched the careers of artists including Michael W. Smith and Rich Mullins and Wayne Kirkpatrick.
Blanton served as executive producer for some of Grant’s biggest hits, including the albums Unguarded (1985), Lead Me On (1988), and the multi-platinum Heart in Motion (1992), which sold more than ten million copies and received five Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year. He also executive produced hits for Smith including his debut, Michael W. Smith Project (1983) featuring the song “Friends,” The Big Picture (1986), i 2 (EYE) (1988) and Change Your World (1992). Blanton and Harrell worked with authors including Frank Peretti, helping him release his multi-million selling This Present Darkness in 1986 and Piercing the Darkness in 1989.
Beginning in 1997, Blanton and Harrell served as co-presidents of Gaylord’s Idea Entertainment, but in 2009 the golden franchise ended between Blanton and Harrell, and thus started the new chapter for Blanton in artist development and branding.
Currently, Blanton has partnered in the development with Songwriting University, to help support the songwriters of Nashville, and help develop new artistic talent. Also, Blanton is a partner with Vertigo Media, and a new management launch called Halogen-BNA. Vertigo and Halogen will work together to build and develop new artist and songwriters thru technology and community. But not to be left out of the development lane, Blanton today is also working with new film projects, with Terry Benedict (producer of Hacksaw Ridge) and TV productions for a Texas non-profit, Heartlight, and Parenting Today’s Teens. He has also joined with long-time friend Gary Glover to continue to consult on many projects in development thru a partnership called, Cyprus Creative Partners, a company to help advance all types of branding and development. Vision-casting and strategically planning whether for one-singer, or for an entire company is what we are built for.
Blanton is a member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Gospel Music Association, the Country Music Association, and the Americana Music Association, and he serves on the board of Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment and Arts. The team of Blanton & Harrell was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2017. And then in 2019 Blanton was named Outstanding Alumnus of the year for Abilene Christian University, his alma mater.
About Dr. Karen Phillip
Dr. Karen Phillip is multi-talented. She is a published international author on parenting and relationships, writes for the print media, and is a professional counselling psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist. Karen is a recognized speaker, presenter, and media commentator.
Dr. Karen has clients all over the world including industry leaders, high profile entrepreneurs and celebrity clients. She also works with couples, parents and families guiding and assisting them to achieve unity and renewed happiness in their relationships.
Dr. Karen holds a PhD of Philosophy in Sociology. Karen specializes in relationships and parenting. She works with families who are experiencing problems with communication, conflict, and child behaviors, and she writes for many parenting sites, newspapers, and magazines. Dr. Karen is the author of a very popular parenting book Who Runs Your House, the Kids or You? Her book has helped thousands of parents and families around the world and her latest book OMG We’re Getting Married is written to provide all couples both pre and post marriage, with the tools needed to ensure a long lasting, happy future together.
Dr. Karen also works with numerous corporate businesses and groups, teaching improved communication techniques, personal motivation, direction, workplace and family relationship improvements, and unity within the work group for improved results.