In a dynamic exploration of the intersection between creativity, critical thinking, and music education, the Alice Smith School recently hosted a compelling speaker series event featuring Lisa Tregale, the Director of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. The event, held in collaboration with the school's Music department, drew in parents, students, and educators eager to delve into the essential skills required for success in an increasingly complex and digitised world.
The captivating discussion was facilitated by Head of School, Sian May, and Head of Primary Music, Tomos Nicholls, with our talented Year 13 student, Preyankka, taking the helm as the event's host. Sian May commenced the dialogue by emphasising the profound impact of music and music learning on the brain, igniting synapses that play a pivotal role in fostering both creative and critical thinking skills. Sian continued to expand this into the wider creative arts and discussed the importance of intentionally designing opportunities to develop those types of thinking everywhere through the curriculum.
When asked about the importance of music in the Primary years, Tomos Nicholls commented on the fact that many children learn to sing before they can form full sentences, so music is critical to language learning and development. He continued to discuss teaching the creative process and what he enjoys most in terms of challenging children to create at all stages of learning. For example, during his GCSE composition class, he asks students to manipulate a piece of paper from which they can create a piece of music using the same creative functions, and in a Year 2 lesson he asks children to write a new verse to the Alice Smith School song.
Creativity and Critical Thinking in the Modern World
Delving into the significance of creativity and critical thinking, the speakers highlighted these skills as indispensable in navigating the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. They probed into the ways our education system provides opportunities for students to develop these skills and explored how parents, educators, and support systems can inspire young minds to think critically, solve problems creatively, and challenge the status quo.
Lisa Tregale, a distinguished figure in the music sector, shared her own journey to becoming a creative leader. Hailing from the Devon town of Newton Abbot, she embarked on her musical journey by choosing the saxophone as a child. Her unconventional degree programme at York University fueled her passion for arts management, setting her on a trajectory that led to instrumental contributions during the Foot and Mouth crisis in rebuilding Devon communities through the arts.
Advocacy for Inclusive Music Education
A true innovator in inclusion and music education, Lisa founded the South West Music School, dedicated to making music education accessible to all children. She passionately advocates for music therapy in treating acute illnesses, and dementia and underscores its importance in child development. Beyond her role as a leading woman in the music industry, Lisa actively engages in charity work with organisations such as The Aloud Charity, Dartington International Summer School Foundation, Association Of British Orchestras, and Open Up Music.
Lisa talked about creativity as a leadership skill and cited IBM’s research into recruitment skills and talent identification in the workplace. Thinking outside the box, and being entrepreneurial are all fundamental creative skills that need to be nurtured early to turn into behaviours that can translate to professional success for students in their future careers.
She also reflected on the times we were locked down during COVID-19 when the most watched content was based on creative culture. Discussing the digital world, she has redefined the BBC’s strategy for generating content for digital platforms and extending engagement to music in new ways.
How important is inclusivity?
“Utterly essential. We live in a gloriously diverse world, we are all different and sometimes people are fearful of celebrating difference, but difference can be really exciting.” - Lisa Tregale
As the talk concluded, Lisa Tregale's insights resonated with the audience, prompting reflection on the transformative power of music in shaping creative minds and fostering critical thinking. The event not only celebrated the convergence of art and education but also left a lasting impression on attendees, inspiring a renewed commitment to nurturing the next generation of creative thinkers in our ever-evolving world.
Watch the recording with Lisa Tregale HERE.