Kourosh Dini guitar practice
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Kourosh Dini, MD, on creativity in music practice


“Creativity is a guidance of play in resolving a vision.”

Kourosh Dini, MD


In improvised music, the creative element is obvious: choosing notes and rhythms. But in practicing composed music, the notes and rhythms are given us. In many cases, we’re also told where to swell or fade, or when to slow down or speed up. So where does creativity enter?

In practicing composed music, and developing our technical skills (speed, precision, versatility, etc.), creativity comes in a different form.

In Workflow Mastery, Kourosh Dini writes:

Creativity is a guidance of play in resolving a vision.
Organization is a process of supporting and clearing a path for an intention’s development.
One is river; the other is riverbed.”

Playing composed music, we start with a degree of organization. The composer has created a scaffold with which we can build a piece of music. We’ve got the blueprint.

We then use our creativity to manifest it.

We form a mental concept of the piece. We “hear” it in our heads. We find the emotional meaning, the line of drama threading from the first note to the last. We envision sonic textures and forward movement. We may even create stories and plotlines to get deeper insight into the emotional character of the music.

These are all creative acts. These are acts of imagination.

Then to bring these imagined musical possibilities to life – this is the real act of creation. To sit down and create sounds that move ourselves and others to a premeditated emotion – this task is wrought with difficulty and challenge.

And before any masterful act of expression, we first just have to get the notes. We have to get our fingers to the right places at the right times. And this is hard, too.

Choosing the right tool for each job and toying with various elements of a problem or tricky spot take creativity. They take experimentation, and trial and error (aka “play”).

In Dini’s analogy, organization forms the riverbed through which the river of creativity can flow. Others have spoken similarly of “creative constraints”. Organization is useful to the extent it facilites the creative play of musical practice – using our minds and bodies to resolve our artistic visions.

Our vision of what we want to create (be it a piece of music, a skill, a physical experience, or anything else) guides our practice. How we get from where we are to the realization of that vision – this is our creative work.


“Creativity is a guidance of play in resolving a vision.”

Kourosh Dini, MD




allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.


-Karen Richardson

I just upgraded. I have been thinking about it since day one, but wanted to see how it works out for me. I have to say, even though I did not put as much effort in as I expected to, I already hear and feel Improvements when playing compositions I learned some time ago, before joining The Woodshed.

Thanks!


-Alexey Neyman


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