Using “Music Writing” to Trigger Creativity, Awareness, Motivation, and Poetry

Apr 5, 2016 by

Jeffrey Pflaum –

Mindfulness programs are currently popular in schools across the United States. Why not? These meditative practices help children calm down and reduce stress—you know, lighten up—because they’re getting buried with excessive testing and test prepping via CCSS. While mindfulness works, I strongly believe that my approach and techniques to reach a child’s mind, imagination, heart, and spirit will initiate individual as well as whole class environment changes.

This is “Contemplation Music Writing”

The “Contemplation Music Writing Project,” in existence from the 70s until the early 2000s, uses (1) music (of all kinds), (2) contemplation (of inner experiences), (3) writing, and (4) discussion to help kids help themselves change their worlds, on the inside and outside through: attitude, behavior, motivation, compassion, empathy, and “inner-sight.” The lessons target children’s emotional intelligences, social-and-emotional learning skills, and academic skills in writing, reading, thinking (creatively and critically), and creativity.

Please check out my guest blog post at Edutopia titled, “Using ‘Music Writing’ to Trigger Creativity, Awareness, Motivation, and Poetry,where the basics of my project are described at the following link:

Inner Journeys Triggered by The Counting and Music Techniques

I know this project might sound a bit ambitious, but there are steps to take so children can ease into contemplation, writing, and discussing personal “stuff,” and to make sense of all that they go through in the school year. Music becomes a powerful vehicle to lead them on peaceful journeys of self-discovery (identity), self-motivation (key to every child who steps in a classroom), and self-education (another basic to learning: learning on your own).

Before kids listen to music and contemplate, I introduce inner experience via the counting technique by asking them to count backwards silently from 50 to 1, by ones, and without rushing: 50…49…48…47…46… until they reach “1.” Despite trying to stay focused on the counting, there are always side-trips or journeys that happen in their minds and imaginations. It is these events, the thoughts, ideas, feelings, mind-pictures, experiences, memories, reflections, dreams, reveries, and fantasies that I want to hear and learn about in the contemplation writings.

And they can also describe their ability to concentrate on counting the numbers. If kids lose track of the count, they’re free to talk about where they “went off to,” how they returned, or didn’t return to the numbers. Discussions center on their diverse inner journeys as I read the work orally and anonymously and probe the writings with questions to further expand on the contents of their experiences. Children write about whatever they got into while counting.

From this counting technique (4 practice runs, depending on how they are able to process the idea of “inner experience”), I move on to the music technique, where I play 10 minutes of the kids’ favorite sounds. They contemplate inner experiences while the music plays (no writing is done yet), and when it stops, they are asked to recall, reflect on, and write about what happened in their contemplations. Afterwards, I pick several writings to discuss and ask questions to help the class understand and appreciate their classmates’ contemplations.

One result to experiencing contemplation music writing’s inner processes is poetry. Throughout the counting, music, listening, contemplating, writing, and discussion, students learn about the ingredients vital to poetry writing: thinking, feeling, visualizing, creating, reflection, sensitivity, contemplation, and experiencing.

“The Contemplation Music Writing Project,” in my opinion, humanizes approaches and techniques to develop awareness, focus, concentration, and mindfulness. The outcomes show a more positive, up-toned, calm, and peaceful classroom environment. Individuals change and come together as “one whole class” by practicing the music technique two times a week—or more—on a regular basis.

To learn more about “Contemplation Music Writing,” check out the following:


(Originally published by Edutopia: April 2, 2012| Updated: March 3, 2016)

To see samples of the students’ published poetry, go to my website:

Please be patient if you want to download the poems.

You can also check out my posts on The BAM Radio Network’s blog, EDWords, at:

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