Creative Curiosity Cloud

Creative Curiosity Cloud is a blog for those of you who want to make your students more creative, more curious and keep their head in the clouds. I want to share my thoughts on how we can nurture creativity and give our students the space to create, listen, perform and respond. But instead of just thinking about the classroom we will be looking to the cloud.

Are your students creative? Are they curious? Do they sometimes seem like they have their head in the clouds?

Head in the Clouds

We have all heard this phrase before and I did a bit of research into its origin. I couldn’t find too many specifics, but it looks like it dates back to the 1600s. Back then, to be in the clouds wasn’t something that was really possible – unless you had a balloon. There were no planes, and buildings simply weren’t tall enough to reach the clouds. Life was very different and civilisation may have dreamt of being able to fly through the clouds above them. Some might say that if you have your head in the clouds you are distracted and disconnected.

But some might say that the daydreaming human, with their head in the clouds, is actually thinking of something more. They are maybe dreaming impossible dreams, of flying through the clouds. To have your head in the clouds is to think at a higher level, outside the box. It is possible the best way to think about a creative person. We should be encouraging our students to have their head in the clouds, dreaming up melodies and music that they might not have ever thought they could create.

Being Creative

Being creative is crucial to life, but it is sometimes difficult to define. It is frustrating that creativity is put in a box and some areas of school life are considered creative, and some are not. I think creativity should run through the entire school, but I obviously want to see it working in my music room. It could be said that everything we do has a root in creativity. But it is also clear that there is an artistic approach to creativity, and we must harness this in our music classes.

Raising creative students means we are encouraging them to think about that they are doing. They need space to create and time to generate their own ideas. Creative musicians want to explore music, and are keen to seek out new ways of doing things. But we must also scaffold this for those students who may be at a lower level of musical understand. A student can create a rhythm and explore note values. This kind of creative task must not be overlooked in an effort to make creativity a reserve of the most able.

Being Curious

I have come to believe that in order to get students to be creative, they first need to be curious. This has become one of my favourite words and something I want to embed in my curriculum. To be curious is to be interested, inquisitive, questioning, nosy, quizzical and interrogative. When students are curious about something they are more likely to ask questions, think deeply and explore methods of understanding. It could be said that curiosity will lead to a higher level of creativity.

So how do we teach in such a way that students are curious?

I think this can all start with listening. As students listen to a piece of music they can be led to a place of curiosity.

How was this piece created? Why does it sound like this?

As they question, they become more curious. They want to know why something sounds the way it sounds.

How did you do that sir?

Curiosity in our students will lead them to this question – how did you do that? We want them to get to a place where they want to be able to create something similar. But that journey will involve listening, but it may also involve them seeing you as a teacher firstly enjoying being creative, but also creating something yourself. Modelling curiosity and creativity is a major component of instilling these traits in our students.

I love playing students music and questioning it myself. I enjoy seeing them ask questions and then want to try things for themselves. The more space we make to encourage curiosity the more chance we have of reaching that creativity goal. As students ask how something is achieved in music, they are showing a deep drive to want to do it for themselves.

And of course this will be different for every student and setting. Not all students will naturally be excited to create a Ground Bass for example. But yet I disagree with my own comment there. I think that our job as teachers is to make sure that every task, topic, genre, style and set work that we teach, sparks curiosity in our students.

Exploring music

Being curious about music is all very well, but we then need to guide our students on their journey. We need to show them where they can go to learn more, build their knowledge and ultimately listen to examples of great music. If they are interested in learning more about symphonies, then we can point them towards some great works that will get them thinking creativity. But they might also be curious about the building blocks of music and want to know how they can use them for themselves.

I actively and frequently use Focus on Sound Pro in my teaching. It is a great tool to work alongside this curiosity journey. It is an online resource that allows students to explore key terms, key sounds and key pieces of music. They can listen to how an instrument sounds, or what a perfect cadence sounds like. They can explore set works and then jump to hyper-linked key terms. They can then complete lessons and listening tests to see if they are building their knowledge. It is a great resource for the curious and of course, it lives in the cloud!

Creative Composing

An obvious avenue for creativity is composition, but can we think differently. A student doesn’t need to create a “whole piece” in order to be creative. In our classrooms we can use short tasks that can give every student a chance to create something. Creating just a short ostinato is still being creative. We should be aiming to link our teaching of knowledge to a practical or creative task. That way, students are more likely to build their understanding of music.

When students are working on compositions we want to encourage them to stick their head in the clouds and spend some times dreaming up ideas. We don’t want composing to be too formulaic, but we want it to have a sense of flair and wholeness. The more space we give them to think, the better their work will be.

But of course for some students we do need to scaffold their work and guide them as they create their first piece. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t creative, it just means that they maybe lack some of the skills and understanding needed to just go it alone. There are steps we can take to build creative confidence and continue to spark enough curiosity that they want to learn.

Soundtrap is a great tool for scaffolding composition, and also setting short compositional tasks. It is possible to quickly create something, that you can then share with the whole class as an assignment. This assignment is then copied to their Soundtrap and you as the teacher get a copy of each students work in a folder.


One of the big advancements in music in the time I have been teaching has been with cloud based software. Students can now access their work at home, and this is bridging the gap for us all. A composition started in class can now be continued at home. This allows students to create when it suits them. And this can only be a good thing for our music departments. Lets be honest, sometimes Monday morning at 9am is not the most creative time for some students. But a Sunday afternoon might be, and with their work in the cloud they can continue it when it suits them.

Cloud based software is increasing in quality and affordability and I love it that I can set Soundtrap assignments for homework. Working in the cloud just means that they are accessing their work when it suits them. And composition homework is such a good thing to set for students, especially when music lessons are often only happening once a week. If you haven’t explored the cloud based options out there, then please do get in touch. They won’t be completely perfect for every scenario, but they are much more advanced than you might think.

And as I have said, having your head in the clouds is actually a good thing

Creative Curioisty Cloud

So I am on a mission to make my students more creative, through a focus on making them more curious. I want them to have their heads in the cloud, dreaming up ideas for making and exploring music. And I can give them the opportunity to work in the cloud using software that they can access in school and at home. Creative students are exciting to be around, and they will be able to take these skills into numerous professions when they leave school.

But curious students, they really are exciting, because they want to go deeper and explore even more. Let’s make our students curious by delivering well planned, suitably sequenced and engaging lessons. Let’s show them the world of music that is out there and then leave them to explore it for themselves.

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