How to Gain Creative Confidence 5 Minutes at a Time

“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”  -Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

We all want to be more creative.

Often in my work describing Brooklyn Music Factory in writing, I find myself using the phrase, “creative confidence,” as in, “We help kids build creative confidence.” But what does this actually mean? Sure, we all want to be more creative and confident, (at least I do!), but how is this actually achieved? One instance I observe this happening time and time again occurs within the first 5 minutes of every private lesson.

How to Fly

Each private lesson starts with a 5 minute warm up, in which the student and the teacher play together without talking for a full 5 minutes. There are many variations including piano duet, drum duet, voice & drums, voice duet, etc. The main point is to take away the fear of playing “wrong notes” and to simply use your ears and musical curiosity to play with someone else. It’s truly liberating! Playing music consistently with other people inspires fearlessness, which in turn leads to allowing your own creative voice to take shape. Take away any possibility of “messing up,” and suddenly you’re flying.

A way to relieve stress

As a teacher, it has been a remarkable experience to observe students opening up and starting to trust their own creativity. Students who at first were very timid on the piano, were soon joyfully exploring melodies and naturally using more fingers on the piano. An adult student of mine who was once terrified to create unrehearsed music or sounds on the spot now looks forward to the 5 minute warm up as a way to leave the stress of the day behind. And she seriously has fun!

The simple realization that we are playing together is also quite powerful. This is not just memorizing a piece, or playing in a bubble, this is interacting with, and having an actual conversation with another person, through music.

Not only does building creative confidence through music lead to becoming a stronger musician, it also allows kids to confidently try other creative fields with less fear, and to bring more confidence to their everyday lives.

It continues to amaze me what can be accomplished 5 minutes at a time. During the 5 minute warm up I’m thankful to continue learning as a teacher, and I’m even more thankful to watch my students stand tall in their own creativity each week.

There are lots of variations on the 5 minute warm up you can try at home by yourself, or with a friend or family member. Try choosing one to do at home this week. Have fun!

5 Minute Challenge:

  • Play the piano for 5 minutes without stopping. (Choose black keys, or white keys to start).
  • Free write for 5 minutes (pen to the paper, no stopping!)
  • Impromptu percussion jam. Clap, snap, tap your leg, pencil on the tabletop, check your pantry for a spice jar “shaker”!