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a word on creativity

January 6, 2019

From Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. This paragraph makes me “smile out loud” every time I read it.

Her word resonate with surprising urgency for us to embrace our creativity. So powerful for me to read now as I am in a period of intense writing + composing.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” you darkest interior voices will demand. 

“It’s funny you should ask,” you can reply. “I’ll tell you who I am: I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am I constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labour alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation. I’m on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go.”


Now you’re the one doing the talking.


Yes, I’m a Year 6-12 Specialist Classroom Music teacher, but being in a secondary school comes with hilarious and awesome benefits. Like being asked to RIDE A STUDENT-BUILT HOVERCRAFT!

This was the coolest thing ever. We had Year 8 Science Week and a KID BUILT A HOVERCRAFT, from a leaf-blower, piece of wood, and a lightweight plastic chair.


a kid built a hovercraft!

June 3, 2018 1 Comment

The gala piece that became the Olympic free skate for Adam Rippon.


And the story behind it which I never knew until now; a strong capable leader of the flock injured and in recovery, creating a new strength + redefining themselves.

A reflection of Adam’s own personal journey and his confidence in defining his own artistry, which in my opinion stands him apart from the crowd despite not having the technical merit of the top contenders.

Amazing, the light that shines when we each of us commit to being authentic.

fly on

February 18, 2018

s – t – r – e – t – c – h

May 1, 2017

I have just finished reading Stretch, by Scott Sonenshein. And yes, it stretched my understanding of what is possible!

The premise of the book is that the less you have, the more you are likely to maximise it and use it well. I am inspired, as I can see parallels in my own life + goals this year!

For example, I have always been a thrifty cook. I industrial cook like a teacher who is going into hiding for a month, just in case I come home and even have an inkling that I might be too tired to cook, so that I have absolutely no excuse to eat badly. But the excellent off-shoot is that I’m also saving and able to put this money somewhere else. The fear factor kicks in as well; in terms such as this one coming up, where it will take every ounce of energy just to beach myself on the couch at the end of the day, industrial cooking is KING. Something interesting I’ve noticed in this cook-fest is that I get very creative with what’s in the pantry and fridge. I have created the most wonderful “accidental masterpieces” from using only the spices available, stock in the freezer, canned goods, and leftover bits and pieces. Part of this fires up my creativity, the other is because I’m determined to use only what’s available and not spend any more money. AND be healthy. So I am stretching in many different directions in a wholly satisfying manner.

And this all leads to the real reason why I’m stretching in my cooking; I am saving for a very special retreat in the middle of the year, the one holidays where I allow myself to go off the grid for a bit, abandon my Year 12s to let them fend for themselves, and be totally nomadic and uncontactable. This is more money than I’d normally spend on a mid-year, non-overseas holiday. But, determined not to dip into my savings, I am stretching…and far more easily than I thought I would be. Flights, accommodation, and the retreat itself are all paid for. I’ve even managed to put aside some cash for spending money. I’ve not touched my savings, or even thought about abating my usual savings rate over and above my mortgage. I’m stretching, in the most satisfying way.

And finally, I see it in my teaching. The kid that doesn’t come blessed with “natural talent”, which I actually think is a total and absolute curse, stretches. Coupled with determination and grit, and a complete love for what they do, it’s impossible to predict how much. When they are on that path, stretching and getting creative over what capabilities and skills they DO have, and maximising them, is far more satisfying than watching the kid with “talent” who squanders the opportunities to develop. And sometimes, even more frustrating, the “half-arsed” develop”. The sort of development that happens in a flurry just before assessment time. That’s not stretching, that’s academic bleating.

Stretching. It’s satisfying!

the paradox of creativity…

The magic and messiness of creativity.

My goodness, I cannot tell you how much this resonated with me, as a person, and as a teacher. I felt like I was on the edge of a marvellous precipice of understanding, looking in, hearing the things I’d been thinking, living, doing, and trying to generate in my classroom, put into definitive words. And that is refreshing!

What the speaker, Linda Hill, so beautifully confirmed was the extreme paradox of creativity, the creative process, and how to plant the seed of creativity in a group of potential creators – in my case, my students.

Here are the paradoxes I heard that need to co-exist in equal force for creativity to be truly at work:

  • The freedom to be messy and spontaneous in the creative process, but the discipline to be able to pull the threads together to create an end product that is viable.
  • The chance to be totally honed-in on the tiny details, yet to not say “done” until the final lens is zoomed right out on the big picture.
  • The receptiveness to entertain new and radical ideas, but the commitment to your own ideas to verify their merit in a shifting + developing environment.
  • A deep personal connection with new ideas and concepts, but the egoless-ness to allow them to develop and change to fit a bigger entity.
  • The ability to be completely uncomfortable and in total flow at the same time.
  • That lively debate and discourse is encouraged in order to develop understanding.
  • That the creative process is a skill that requires tenacity, hope, imagination, commitment, vulnerability, sensitivity, courage…and practise. 
  • The freedom to play and be playful in a place of work in order to create focus and discipline.
  • The development of emotional intelligence in order to develop parallel objective strength, and vice versa.
  • To encourage learning through play and embracing failure rather than looking for the quickest, most cost-effective, and most “correct” solution.
  • Innovative leadership looks totally different to conventional leadership; it asks the leader or leaders to deeply know and nurture their people and create the space whereby their people can do the persistent and determined work of innovation. This can only done when their people DO NOT have a pre-determined vision dictated to them…because they’re about to somehow arrive there through the creative process.
  • That the job of a leader is to create a world where your people want to belong…a strong sense of community.
  • The leader is the lynchpin, not always the ideas-man.
  • Everyone is seen, valued and heard for their skills set and what they have to offer, personally and professionally, no matter what their experience or rank. 
  • The ideas are taken on merit, not on the status of the person who put the idea forward.
  • The leader sets the stage, they don’t own it…that’s for the people on the team…and ultimately, the final, fully developed idea.

And now my mind is buzzing as to how this actually looks in my classroom when my students are tackling a composition assignment, when they are collaborating to create choreography for a choral number, or when they are trying to stylise a piece for a small-group ensemble.

So much which resonates!

the paradox of creativity

May 2, 2015