A Creativity “Cheat Sheet” for Music Class


There’s nothing mysterious about coming up with new ideas. As a matter of fact, there are no new ideas, only new combinations of existing ideas.

Being creative is all about changing around different variables in different ways.

When children seem stuck for ideas, suggesting one or two new variables can start their brains zooming along in new directions. Here are some examples. (These ideas can be used in music, dance, movement, poetry, songs, and dramatic play.)

  1. Tempo –fast or slow.
  2. Dynamics –loud or soft.
  3. Area –a large or a small motion.
  4. Height –high (above head), low or anywhere in between.


  5. Directionality – move up, down, side to side, in a circle, diagonally, and so on.   
  6. Space – high or low, in front or in back
  7. Position – rightside up, upside down, sideways, etc.
  8. Use different parts of the body – knee, shoulder, tummy, toes, etc.
  9. Type of movement –walk, slide, wiggle, jump, etc.hopping

  10. (Music instruments) Hit or scrape different parts of the instrument against other parts (for two-piece instruments)
  11. (Music instruments) Different hand movements on instruments – tap with finger, pat with whole hand, scratch, knock with knuckles, brush with fingertips, rub with palm, flick with thumb and third finger, etc.
  12. Animals – How would different animals (mice, elephants, kangaroos, etc.) do this?
  13. Characters – How would a (pirate, ballerina, baby, princess, robot, etc.) do this?
  14. Nature –portray rain, thunder, falling leaves, sunshine, stars, ocean waves, etc.
  15. (Music instruments)Timbre (sound quality) – play instrument with or on different materials (cardboard, wood, blanket, etc.) or fill homemade shakers with different materials (rice, building bricks, paper clips, etc.) to change sound
  16. Staccato/Legato – Perform the same movement in a sharp, choppy (staccato) way or a smooth, flowing way (legato)
  17. (Music instruments)Rhythm – play in a regular rhythm (steady beats), a skipping or galloping rhythm, or an irregular rhythm
  18. Acceleration/deceleration –faster or slower
  19. Crescendo/decrescendo – get gradually louder or softer
  20. Position of body –standing, sitting, squatting, lying down, or while marching or dancing

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