Encouraging The Inner Artist

By Stephanie Pfundt

When an artistic pursuit becomes one’s occupation, like in the case of teachers here at AWSOM or other professional musicians who get paid to do art, it becomes crucial to pay attention to what puts us as musicians and our students in the best place to produce and create art.

Regardless of profession, all of us harbor an inner artist with something to contribute. Hopefully, these following tips will help free all the hiding inner artists!

Create often and in a disciplined manner. For many of us, this means finding time to block music practice into our schedule every day and finding short and long term goals like recitals and competitions to work towards. For the composer, this can mean composing on a daily basis, as fearlessly as possible. This can be challenging because there is a widely held belief that composers are simply geniuses or child prodigies.   In reality, it often takes a large commitment of practicing and doing to compose projects, just like mastering an instrument.  

Be willing to throw projects away. This can be scary. Finishing a composition project only to throw it away can seem like a waste of time rather than what it is: practicing towards a goal! Questions like, “Will I ever create something worthy of keeping?” have stopped many a young composer from reaching their potential because they did not understand the creative process. Be willing to create only to find that it is not yet good enough. This is simply part of the process. As a side note, no parent expects their child to be able to play a Rachmaninov piano concerto after their first lesson. Why should we expect that composers either have a talent or don’t have a talent? Composition takes practice! 

Monitor any negative self-talk or negative core beliefs about creativity. Our inner artist, in it’s best expression, bears resemblance to a child who still has full day dreaming capabilities. It makes sense that especially as adults it is hard to access our former daydreamer when we decide we want to be creative because we’ve been told since infancy to value practicality above everything. Often it is like we need to relearn how to daydream again. How do we overcome our sense of adulthood to regress, or rather progress, to a place where we do not condemn all our wild, or impractical thoughts and made up stories? Creating an affirming space for these wild imaginative thoughts is challenging but can usually be accomplished through a form of journaling. Keeping a daily journal where one writes everything that comes to mind until all the typical everyday brain chatter is gone and only daydreaming remains is a crucial step to any recovering creative.  

How can I encourage my child towards a healthy approach to creating and composing? Simple encouragement cannot be overstated. However, with that said, keep an eye on continual praise of talent. Instead, encourage the ACT of creating art in an attempt to normalize discipline in the subject area. Allow that great art takes more than just talent, namely perseverance and discipline. Help create time and space for your child to daydream by encouraging healthy daydreams as well as the manifestation of these imaginings into tangible forms of art. Of course, sign them up for music and art lessons so they have resources at their disposal. And perhaps the hardest thing: acknowledge, if you haven’t already, that your own inner artist deserves nurturing and teach a healthy approach to creativity by example!