Musical creativity can be applied universally, instructor says | VailDaily.com

Musical creativity can be applied universally, instructor says

EDWARDS — Like any skill, creativity can be taught, learned and improved.

"I think it's something that can be learned and improved," said Christian Howes, who runs Creative Strings.

Howes will be in Avon Elementary Tuesday afternoon conducting a Creative Strings workshop, and in concert Tuesday night at Battle Mountain High School. The concert is a fundraiser to help supplement after school music programs in local schools.

"We're hopefully reinforcing the idea that creativity is an asset we all have, and we can develop our unique stamp that we bring to all the things we do. That's not something you can score on a standardized test," Howes said.

Creativity pays

The value of creative thinking, or creativity in problem solving is widely documented, Howes said.

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Companies like Microsoft, Apple or Google may have a pool of applicants who score well on standardized tests. Companies like that look at the way people approach solving problems, Howes said.

"I want to help people have the confidence to develop that autonomy. It also gives them a handle on the creative process itself, and the ability to practice it," Howe said.

Howes is a classically trained musician who still loves classical music. But there's so much more.

"Somewhere along the way I got excited about things outside the classical music canon," Howes said. "I love to share those things with kids. There are so many ways to play string instruments that can be rewarding, beyond the classical traditions."

He begins by demystifying music theory.

"Being a violinist is like being a race car driver who can't fix a flat tire. I'm saying, 'Let's get under the hood and learn about it. It's not that scary,'" Howes said.

By working on improvisation, composition and arranging, Howe says they're really nurturing the creative process and teaching kids how to practice creativity in the musical context, Howes said.

"They're getting a broad view of accompanying the music that is in the world, not just music from Western Europe – blues, jazz, African music and others," Howe said. "It's also a way to appreciate other cultures."

Bringing back music

Scott Loss is a violin teacher for the YouthPower365 after school program, and found Howes through other musicians and fiddle camps.

Today's program is meant to supplement after school music programs.

"Even in this community that is so supportive of the arts, we're still struggling to find funding for these programs," Loss said.

About Howes

Howes is a former associate professor at the Berklee College of Music and launched Creative Strings to provide workshops to schools around the world, online study and music camps. Creative Strings Academy is a home study course with more than 200 video lessons and course materials.

He was nominated for Violinist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, voted first place in the Downbeat Critics Poll (rising stars) in 2011, and voted among the top three jazz violinists in the Jazz Times Critics Poll in 2013.

Howes headlined six nights at Lincoln Center in 2013, and recently toured Ukraine at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy.

He has 13 albums, has toured the world extensively, and performed/recorded with Les Paul, Bill Evans, Victor Wooten, Paquito D'Rivera, Bela Fleck, Dafnis Prieto, Robben Ford, Sam Bush, Richard Galliano, Spyro Gyra, and a long list of A-List musicians in various styles.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

If You Go

What: Virtuoso jazz/blues violinist Christian Howes

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Battle Mountain High School auditorium

Cost: Free. Suggested donation $20 for adults, $10 for students.

Information: The concert is a fundraiser to restore after school music programs to local schools. For information about Howes’ Creative Strings Academy, go to http://www.creativestrings.org.