I love the Wall Street Journal as an unusual source of creative and entrepreneural inspiration. On Monday, March 1st, there was an article entitled, At 3M, Innovation Comes in Tweaks in which CEO George Buckley was interviewed about his company and their innovations and creative processes. Really the whole article is interesting and worth the read, but I love what he said in this part of the interview,
WSJ: How else do you get your people to be creative?
Mr. Buckley: Everybody wants to find out how to can creativity. You can’t. Creativity comes from freedom, not control. We let all the people in the R&D community spend 15% of their time researching whatever they like.
Now, I have heard of several companies allowing their employees to spend a small percentage of their time researching their own interests with remarkable results (Google for one). It only makes sense that people are most excited about projects that interest them and in which they have vested interests.
How does that relate to the world of music teaching?
Well, I wonder what would happen if we as teachers allowed our students to spend a certain percentage of their practice time and their music selection on music that they love and pick themselves? Several years ago, I had a 9th grader who was talented but was just about to quit piano his mother told me. We worked out a deal where he could chose up yo 50% of his pieces for that year and I would choose the remaining 50%. He could spend half of his time on music he loved as long as he spent half of his time on the music I assigned. This was the only way we got through that year, but I’m so excited to say that he is now a senior and has developed into quite the musician! He continues to study music that he loves, but it is often music that I have picked now that his tastes have developed. We spent a good deal of time in his 9th and 1oth grade years on Broadway music, church music, holiday music, etc., but it was well worth it as his love of music just grew by leaps and bounds.
I wonder how this could relate and encourage more innovation in the composing/publishing world as well?