Creative Sequence

Creativity and Active Engagement

The Importance of Creativity and Active Engagement in the Music Classroom

While there are many ways in which the technological explosion of the past hundred years has enriched and expanded our lives, Creative Sequence is based on the premise that music, dance, drama, art, and physical activity are still essential human activities that every child should learn to DO, not just watch. Children inherently love to move, drum on things, make noise, and explore their environment. As teachers, it is our duty to engage this natural tendency, and to lead them to discover the joys of an active lifestyle.

Designing a Creative Sequence

Most music textbook publishers create their own curricula with every objective listed in precise order, accompanied by a complete lesson, often made so “user friendly” (singalong CD, step-by-step directions, copyable worksheets) as to nearly eliminate the need for a music specialist at all!

The problem with all such curricula is that they were not written by you, for your students, your schedule, or your school. While they provide an excellent starting point for the beginning teacher, it does not take long to realize that adaptability and creativity are not only desired in teaching music, but essential to meeting the needs of your students. A particular class might not be ready for a particular lesson, or an upcoming concert means putting the curriculum “on hold” until after the performance. Textbooks can also can be constraining, as a new lesson or song picked up at a workshop needs to be “fit” into the existing curriculum. By the end of the year, it is very likely that a whole year’s goals have not been accomplished. Depending on how the book is laid out and followed, this can lead to missing the same parts of the curriculum at the end of every year.

More importantly, following a textbook means missing out on opportunities to create cross-curricular connections with reading, math, science, social studies, art, physical education, or any other subject.

The Four Components of the Creative Sequence:
Elements, Repertoire, Media & Process

Creative Sequence Chart

Creative Sequence begins with an awareness of different types of skills and knowledge. Elements, such as rhythm and melody, make up pieces of music, known as the Repertoire. This repertoire is created, learned, performed, and analyzed through a Process, using various Media, including singing and playing instruments. By focusing on these four, easy to remember components, CS provides a clear template for facilitating exceptional learning.

Creative Sequence Lesson Plan with Repertoire

Click here to download an excerpt from Creative Sequence: Teaching Music With Flexibility and Organization, which includes a lesson plan for fourth and fifth grade students using the Anglo-American folk song, The Golden Willow Tree.

Excerpts from Creative Sequence: Teaching Music with Flexibility & Organization by Tim Purdum. Copyright © 2012 by Cedar River Music. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Visit for more information.

Tim Purdum

Tim Purdum teaches K-5 Music in Waterloo, Iowa, and teaches Orff Pedagogy in Level I and II teacher education courses in the summer. He presents workshops and sessions on creativity, sequential planning, and the Orff Process at the local, state, and national level. Tim is the author of Creative Sequence: Teaching Music with Flexibility & Organization, Xylophone & Other Barred Percussion: A Creative Sequence, and Aligning Your Creative Sequence with the Core Music Standards. He has written two apps for music teachers and students, including a lesson planning app and a pocket xylophone app. Tim is the owner of Cedar River Music.

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  1. David DiMuro on August 1, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Purchased the book a couple years and found it to be a great resource.

  2. Jeremy Hill on August 16, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for the great “Willow Tree” lesson, Tim. I’m looking forward to using your Creative Sequence book. I took your level 1 in VT a few years back (you may remember I was the one who had a baby during the course, and you wrote her a song!) and I’ve referred to your process in innumerable ways ever since. Best to you!

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