2012. Vol.3, No.1, 55-60
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.31009
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 55
Creativity in Greek Music Curricula and Pedagogy: An
Investigation of Greek Music Teachers’ Perceptions
Dimitrios Zbainos1, Ariadni Anastasopoulou2
1Harokopio University, Athens, Greece
2National and Kapodistrian University, Athens, Greece
Received December 21st, 2011; revised January 16th, 2012; accepted February 5th, 2012
Creativity’s enhancement through education has been widely discussed and promoted in Greece, especial-
ly in the past few decades. In the music domain, teaching philosophy and practice seem to focus on ways
that can encourage children to learn and apply their knowledge through creative music activities. This
paper reports on the outcomes of a study undertaken with 112 general music teachers of different ages and
scientific backgrounds, who teach in 235 primary and secondary schools in Greece. Being the first time
that such research is being conducted in Greece, the main aim of the study was to reveal how Greek music
teachers think, feel about, and influence pupils’ creativity and the teaching conditions that may enhance or
inhibit it. It is believed that such a study may contribute to the development of creativity enhancement
projects through music teaching. The findings suggest that creativity is associated by Greek music teach-
ers with a natural gift that cannot be addressed in all students, and can only be partly taught in music
classroom. They also indicate that teachers do not have an explicit understanding of music creativity as
well as creativity assessment, since most of them tend to assess students’ creative performance on the ba-
sis on non musical criteria (i.e. participation, eagerness, etc.). Results also show that creative musical ac-
tivities are more often applied in primary education, while in secondary education they are successively
replaced by music theory and history. Finally, teachers’ negative views about the music curriculum, text-
books and number of teaching hours are identified. Such findings lead to suggestions for numerous chan-
ges in music teachers’ education, establishing training in teaching for creativity as a fundamental priority.
Keywords: Music Creativity; Music Education; Greek Primary and Secondary Education
Creativity has been defined as the ability to produce work
that is novel, and appropriate (Sternberg, Kaufman, & Pretz, 2002)
which, according to Kaufman & Baer (2004) is endorsed by
many theorists. For instance, Lubart & Guignard (2004) define
it “as the capacity to produce novel, original work that fits with
task constraints” (p. 43). According to the report of NACCCE
(1999) “all people are capable of creative achievement in some
area of activity, provided that the conditions are right and they
have acquired the relevant knowledge and skills” (Chapter 2,
par. 27). This view is close to the current research orientation
that focuses on any person’s creativity, which develops in the
social system rather than within one person, and whose existence
does not depend solely on its connection to new original products
(Craft, 2005). Creativity is an innate characteristic of all humans,
but a combination of circumstances is needed for it to emerge.
Everyone has creative potential, because everyone can understand
and appreciate her/his experiences (Runco, 2003, 2006). The ne-
cessary elements may be inherent in some people, while some
other need help, encouragement and support to operate creati-
vely. Especially children whose creative potential has not been
expressed yet, are the ones who need education and the creative
conditions that education may offer to them. Sharp (2004) as well
as a number of other researchers (e.g. Amabile, 1996; Cropley,
1997; Horng, Hong, ChanLin, Chang, & Chu, 2005; Lindström,
2006; Mahboub, Portillo, Liu, & Chandraratna, 2004) think that
children’s creativity can be enhanced in education in three as-
pects: The creative learning environment, the creative educators
and creative teaching.
In the past few decades, creativity has been one of the prima-
ry concerns of educational policy. In recent years especially, an
intense trend in the educational planning of many countries for
the recognition of creativity and its inclusion in the aims and the
objectives of the curricula (Sharp, 2004), may be observed. Amid
the rapid social changes, the competition of the economies, and
the continuous technological achievements, it has been gradu-
ally realized that schools need to produce people capable of in-
novation and originality. This comprised the beginning of the
attempt for the encouragement of creativity in schools (Cropley,
Many states since then, with Greece among them, have at-
tempted to change their curricula, often focusing on the devel-
opment of creativity in education. In the Greek educational cur-
riculum, it is mentioned that “the aim is to contribute to the ove-
rall harmonic and balanced development of the cognitive pscy-
cho-physiological abilities of the pupils, so that, regardless of
their gender and origin, they are able to develop into fully grown
personalities and to live creatively; one of the basic principles
which should be promoted through all educational subjects, is
according to the Greek Ministry of Education (YPEPTH, 2003)
the ability for creative conception.
Creativity in Music Education
Creativity related to the art of music is still covered with my-
stery. Music is a phenomenon which cannot be experientially
D. ZBAINOS ET AL.
isolated, (Williamon, Thomson, Lisboa, & Wiffen, 2006). Even
composers, who have experienced and are familiar with the crea-
tive process find it hard to describe with clarity (Haroutounian,
2002; Lapidaki, 2007). The difficulty of the definition and the
exact description of music creativity however, should in no case
dispute its existence and importance. Some researchers, attem-
pting to define the meaning of music creativity, have described
a process which, according to Webster (2002) is active, constructed
and aiming at the production of something which is new to the
person. Gordon (1988) argues that the person, consciously or
unconsciously, organizes known music constructs and materials
in new or unknown ways. Others (Hickey & Webster, 2001;
Webster, 2002) claim that during the creative process people
have to activate both divergent and convergent thinking, as they
have to conceive many musical ideas and then to select some of
them and combine them such that they make music sense.
The conception of Csikszentmihalyi & Custodero (2002) for
the term music creativity is broader. They argue that it may ap-
pear in a number of human music expressions, such as the ex-
pression of a young child who produces spontaneous melodies
and rhythms, or the conversion of an object into a musical in-
strument. The active relationship of people with their internal
and external world, at the emergence of creativity, is stressed
by Reybrouck (2006), who describes musical creativity beyond
the narrow limits of composition and performance, as “coping
with the sonic world” (p. 42). Besides, since people are in con-
stant interaction with their environment, Haroutounian (2002)
mentions that music creativity is the creative process of the
communication of ideas and feelings through sounds, “the crea-
tive interpretation” as she names it.
Although the above definitions emphasize different elements
of music creativity, they converge on the fact that it concerns an
“interactive relationship” of a person with the sound, by which
the person goes through some cognitive processes, either con-
sciously with a specific aim in a predefined framework, or not.
Odena & Welch (2009) note that the term “creativity” is used in
music education statutory guidelines in two different ways: a.
describing composition/improvisation activities and b. highlight-
ing the value of creativity as a desirable “thinking style”. There-
fore, although composition and improvisation still remain the
main music creative activities, pupils’ creativity can be expres-
sed by a large number of other music activities such as perfor-
mance, experimentation with musical instruments and sounds,
as well as listening and exploring different sound sources (Kout-
soupidou & Hargreaves, 2009).
In past decades, important theories and models were devel-
oped to discuss music creativity and the framework in which it
appears and develops (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Elliott, 1995;
Sheridan & Byrne, 2002; Swanwick, 1979; Webster, 1992, 1994,
2002, 2003). Researchers have been concerned with the proc-
esses by which people—and especially pupils—engage in mu-
sical creative activities of composition (e.g. Burnard, 2006; Bur-
nard & Younker, 2004) and improvisation (e.g. Kratus, 1995;
Tafuri, 2006). Although music curricula worldwide tend to en-
courage creative teaching, there is evidence that teachers do not
adopt creative child-centered practices (Koutsoupidou, 2010).
The role of educators therefore as implementers of the curricula
is crucial in creative teaching, especially in music teaching.
The term creative teacher implies that it is the teacher who
reinforces and promotes the creativity of his/her pupils (Craft,
1997). This effort is continuous, everyday and flexible to modi-
fications depending on the existing circumstances. Sternberg,
(Sternberg, 2003; Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2004) defined crea-
tive teachers as the ones who encourage their pupils to create,
invent, discover, imagine what would happen if, suppose that,
and foresee. Teachers who can develop pupils’ creativity are those
who first of all identify the creative skills of pupils, (Jeffrey &
Craft, 2004), the factors that affect them, and the ways by which
they can intervene so that they can be improved. Teacher un-
derstanding and valuing of creativity is a necessary condition
for recognizing pupils’ creative abilities and therefore generat-
ing the conditions which are necessary for their development
The acceptance of pupils’ creative elements leads to an adop-
tion of relevant teaching approaches and to the formation of
school classes, in which mistakes, doubts, curiosity, free expres-
sion of ideas, and non expected answers by pupils are all ac-
cepted (Cropley, 2001). It is also essential that teachers them-
selves manifest characteristics of creative persons, such as: draw-
ing satisfaction from the nature of their work and not only from
the financial income or any distinctions it may provide; that is,
to be motivated by intrinsic and not extrinsic motivation; to be
easily susceptible to external feelings; to express their thoughts
and ideas easily (Horng et al., 2005); to look for ways, means
and materials; to plan interesting teaching and creative experi-
ences for their pupils (Sharp, 2004) taking care, at the same ti-
me, that their creative personalities do not to overshadow the
initiatives and efforts of their pupils (OFSTED, 2003).It is also
part of teachers’ work to use the appropriate strategies, so that
they are the accommodators of learning, the co-operators and
co-creators (Dineen & Collins, 2005), as well as the classroom
managers where the strict hierarchy of traditional teaching is
absent and all views are freely heard (Belkin, 2002). It is im-
portant, however, that by no means, in the name of an ill-de-
fined creativity, to overlook the quality of learning (Sternberg,
2003). Creative teachers’ curiosity, willingness to explore and
spiritual flexibility, all consist of a continuity of the secure sub-
ject knowledge and the constant knowledge renewal, and can-
not—nor should they—be separated, because in such a way
creativity loses its essence (OFSTED, 2003). Teaching that sup-
ports the development of the imagination and creativity requires
teachers to position themselves off-center and to promote learn-
ing through activities that children choose themselves (Burnard,
Finally, as far as pupils’ assessment is concerned, the teacher
attitude that supports pupils’ creativity, is the provision of con-
stant and immediate feedback, the systematic use of formative
assessment in the classroom, the training of pupils in peer asses-
sment practices, and the motivation of teachers and pupils to do
self-assessments (Cropley, 2001). Creative activities need quail-
tative assessments, in which the emphasis is placed not that
much on the final product or the final performance, but rather on
the process that has led to it (Runco, 2003, 2006). In any case,
there is a need for clear criteria and methodology for the asses-
sment of creative activities which derive from teachers’ know-
ledge of pupils’ musical perception, as well as from creative ac-
tivities (Wiggins, 2002). Teachers should know the most ap-
propriate activities for each occasion, so that they choose the
ones which correspond to pupils’ needs, interests, and levels (J.
Wiggins, 1999).The main music creative activities are compo-
sition and improvisation, but pupils’ creativity can be expressed
by a large number of other music activities such as performance,
experimentation with musical instruments and sounds, as well
as the exploration of sound sources.
Music teachers’ beliefs about creativity have not been invest-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
D. ZBAINOS ET AL.
tigated extensively. Odena (2001) studied music teachers’ views
about creativity and its expression in music teaching. He was
led to the conclusion that teachers interpret creativity in a per-
sonal and subjective way. In a later study (Odena, 2006), at-
tempting to find the factors that differentiate teachers’ views, he
concluded that they (the views) were affected significantly more
by the type of their music studies (university, conservatory, etc)
than their educational studies and their years of experience in
education. It seems, therefore, that their sense of creativity is
rather vague, and hard for teachers to define. In a later study,
Odena and Welch demonstrated that teachers’ beliefs about stu-
dents’ creativity were affected by their own teaching experiences
that is, their own musical and teacher education, as well as pro-
fessional training. The more such experiences teachers had, the
more able they were to recognize and appreciate the different
ways students approach a composition assignment. This study
also supported his earlier finding (Odena, 2001) regarding the
subjective and personal interpretation of student creativity by
In Greece, the subject of music is taught once a week in the
last four grades of the Primary school (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th) and in
all three grades of the lower Secondary School (Gymnasion).
Specialized music schools also teach in secondary education,
but are not the focus of the present study. Music teachers may
be graduates of one of the four Music Departments of Greece’s
State Universities, or alternatively, they may hold certificates of
study (theoretical or of musical instrument1) from private Con-
servatories or Music Schools. The selection of qualified teach-
ers for education in recent years happens through a written ex-
amination that takes place every two years.
The educational material is designed by the Institute of Peda-
gogy of the Greek Ministry of Education. In Primary education
music textbooks (student book, workbook, teacher book) were
first introduced in the academic year 2007-2008, while in se-
condary education, the existing textbook (student book) has not
been modified, renewed or replaced since first being introduced
in 1985. The music curricula, on the other hand, were modified
in 2003, without however, the simultaneous introduction of new
teaching material. Criticism has been launched at the position
of creativity in the music curricula; although it is often mentioned
as one of the primary aims of music teaching (YPEPTH, 2003),
a clear definition of it is not given.
The present study attempted to investigate music teachers’
perceptions about the role of creativity and creative music ac-
tivities in Greek compulsory education, as such research has ne-
ver been conducted before in Greece.
The particular research questions it aimed to answer were:
How frequently do Greek music teachers implement creative
What are Greek music teachers’ beliefs about the role of crea-
tivity in teaching?
How do Greek music teachers understand music creativity?
What are Greek music teachers’ efficacy beliefs about teaching
and assessing pupils’ creativity?
The sample consisted of 112 music teachers, (graduates of
Music Departments of University or of Private Conservatories),
teaching in 232 primary and secondary schools. Eighty nine
participants (79.5%) were female and 23 (20.5%) male. Most of
them (60.7%) were under 40 years old. More than two thirds of
the sample (68.8%) had a University degree in Music, as they
had graduated from private Conservatories. 31.3% of partici-
pants had a first degree in Music and 5 of them held a master
degree. Two had earned PhDs. Most of the participants (90.2%)
held a music degree from a private music conservatory. The
majority of music degrees of all of the teachers (University gra-
duates and non graduates) were in Harmonic Theory and Coun-
terpoint (57 and 61% respectively). Less than half of the par-
ticipants had a Degree in Counterpoint (23.2%) and a Diploma
in Composition (23.2%). No important differences were observed
in age and years of professional experience distribution. Nev-
ertheless, 6 out of 10 respondents belonged to the age group
“31 - 40 years old”. The highest percentage (55.4%) of the mu-
sic teachers, at the time of the study, taught in Primary educa-
tion, while 46% in Lower Secondary School (Gymnasium). Tea-
chers who belonged to the “above 40” age groups, taught mainly
in secondary education (58.2%), while younger ones (“40 or un-
der”) taught in primary education. This differentiation reflects
the fact that the subject of Music has only recently been in-
cluded in the Primary School Curricula, while in Secondary Edu-
cation it has been taught for several decades.
Music teachers in Greece are usually obliged to work in more
than one school, as music lessons are taught only once a week
in every class. In primary education, where schools have a small
number of classes, half of the music teachers reported that they
were required to teach in three different schools, while most of
teachers in Gymnasium (58.7%) taught music in one school and
40% of them in two schools. Eleven per cent of teachers in
primary schools had to teach in four or even in five schools.
In accordance with the research questions, an anonymous ques-
tionnaire was administered to the music teachers of the sample.
It included both closed- and open-ended questions. Details of
the format and the content of the items will be provided in the
next section together with the results. The internal consistency
of the closed ended questions was satisfactory (Cronbach’s
α = .84, explaining 70.56% of the total variance). The question-
naires were delivered to music teachers of Greek primary and
secondary schools from September to December 2007. Of 148
questionnaires, 112 (75.68%) were returned completed.
Implementation of Music Creative Activities
The first part of the questionnaire included fourteen statements
referring to music activities that may occur in a music lesson.
The first six of them described general music activities (singing,
listening, music analysis, performance, music theory/history,
music dictation), and the rest eight statements referred to crea-
tive music activities (composition, improvisation, experimenta-
tion, instrumentation, all with instruments or/and musical sources).
Teachers were asked to mark the frequency of activities’ em-
ployment in their music class. Answers ranged from 1 (never
employed) to 5 (employed in every lesson). The results showed
that teaching time in Primary school was mainly devoted to
singing (M = 4.11, SD = 0.749) and instrumental performance,
rivate conservatories, one can hold degrees in theoretical studies
(Degree in Odiki, Harmonic Theory, Counterpoint, Fugue and Diploma in
Composition) and/or instrumental studies (first degree-ptychion and second
degree-diploma in a certain musical instrument).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 57
D. ZBAINOS ET AL.
solo or orchestra (M = 3.45, SD = 1.097). Teaching in secondary
schools, on the contrary, included music theory and history in
almost every lesson (M = 4.22, SD = 0.987) and quite often
singing (M = 3.72, SD = 1.089) and listening and evaluating (M
= 3.63, SD = 0.853). Music dictation was the least implemented
general music activity in both primary (M =1.85, SD = 0.786)
and secondary (M = 1.89, SD = 1.120) music teaching. Additio-
nally, it was found that singing and performing were replaced
in secondary education by music theory and history. The sec-
ond set, consisting of seven questions, was related to creative
music activities, such as composition, improvisation, instrumen-
tation and improvisation. Creative activities were less frequently
employed in all educational levels. No participant reported that
s/he employed any creative activity “very often” (value 4) or “in
every lesson” (value 5). All means were below the middle value
“sometimes” (3). The least implemented creative music active-
ties seemed to be composition, either vocal or instrumental. Ove-
rall, creative music activities appeared to be less frequently im-
plemented than general music activities, such as singing or mu-
sic audition. Composition seemed to be the least frequently im-
plemented activity both in primary and secondary education.
The years of professional experience appeared to differentiate
music teaching. The mean frequency of creative music activi-
ties in teaching was found to be significantly higher in teachers
with less professional experience, than in more experienced ones,
who appeared to teach mainly music theory and history (F(110)
= 11.829, p = .000). A post-hoc analysis (Tukey’s b) showed
that significant differences lie mainly between groups with ex-
perience “1 - 5 years” and “more than 20 years”.
Greek music teachers appeared to differ significantly with
regard to the instrument degree they held (F (110) = 3.51, p
< .05,). The post-hoc analysis (Tukey’s b) showed that those
with no instrument degree tended to include composition in their
teaching significantly less than teachers who possessed a first
or a second degree in a musical instrument.
Teachers’ Beliefs on the Role of Creativity i n Teachi ng
According to the answers teachers gave to an open-ended
question regarding the role of creativity in teaching, it seemed
that they tended to believe that creativity is an innate character-
istic which can be promoted only up to a certain degree through
education, since it cannot be taught to all children. What teach-
ing can do is to motivate pupils to be creative. About one in
three participants (30.8%) thought that it can be promoted with
proper methodology, while 4.4% of the teachers reported the
belief that creativity is a solely personal attribute that cannot be
Music Teachers’ Understanding of Music Creativity
Participants’ understanding of the manifestations of creativ-
ity was investigated through four statements (two describing crea-
tive situations and two non creative). They were presented to
music teachers, asking them to mark their opinion on a five-
point Likert type agreement scale (1 = “I strongly disagree” to 5
= “I strongly agree”). The main finding of this item is that a
large percentage of teachers (46.3% and 40.9%) seemed to per-
ceive non creative situations as creative.
In the next open-ended question participants were asked to
report a case in which pupils’ creativity was manifested in mu-
sic teaching. Most of them mentioned “rhythmic improvisation
with percussion” (40%) and “instrument construction” (15%).
Pantomime, sound story and melodic improvisation in existing
lyrics were also among most frequent answers. Interestingly,
music composition was not mentioned at all.
Music Teachers’ Efficacy Beliefs about Teaching and
Assessing Pupils’ Creativity
Participants expressed a high level of self-efficacy in teach-
ing and assessing music creative activities on a five-point Likert
type agreement scale.
Private conservatories’ graduates appeared to feel significantly
more efficacious in assessing composition than their colleagues
who held a University degree (t(106) = 3.189, p < .01).
Teachers were asked to name criteria they used for assessing
creative responses to an open-ended question. The most com-
monly mentioned one was originality (23.4%). Others, however,
did not describe creative behaviors, but rather social skills, such
as eagerness (18.2%), co-operation (16.9%) and pupil’s effort
(13%). Imagination was mentioned in 11.7% of all answers,
while 9% of music teachers reported that they assessed creativ-
ity taking into account the degree to which pupils follow given
rules and directions. It is also worth stressing that 35 teachers
(31.2%) found it difficult to mention any specific assessment
This finding strengthens the idea that teachers did not have
explicit ideas about what creativity consists of, how it is expres-
sed and by which criteria it might be recognized and assessed.
It must be mentioned, however, that even in the official Music
Curriculum, no criteria, standards or guidelines are specified to
music teachers; the only clearly stated expectation is that “as-
sessment criteria must be understood and accepted by all”.
Discussion and Implications for Pedagogy
The present study sketched a picture of Greek schools’ music
reality, which differs a lot from what the Music Curricula describe,
in relation to the development of creativity in the classroom.
The emerging implications of this can be divided in two major
areas: one related to teaching and the other related to teachers.
Music creativity may be enhanced only through practice, per-
sonal action and pupils’ active participation, exploration, expe-
rimentation and a “creative dialogue” with the sounds. In this
sense, the characterization of the subject of music as a “labora-
tory” is absolutely correct; Greek reality however belies inten-
tions, as in the majority of schools there is no access to any
music rooms, music instruments, technological means etc. The
time spent for teaching music in Greek schools, (20 - 25 hours
per year in secondary, 25 - 30 hours in primary education), is
far less than in other European countries. All the above were
revealed in this study as factors that inhibit the teaching of crea-
tive music activities.
The introduction of teaching materials (student book, work-
book and teacher book) in Primary Education seems to have
helped teachers. On the contrary, the depreciation of the secon-
dary school textbooks, which have not been revised in the past
20 years, by music teachers, necessitates either the introduction
of a new textbook that is in accordance with modern theories
and practice of music education, or allowing music teachers to
use textbooks of their choice. The recent changes in curricula
did not seem to be enough for teachers, who appeared to be
frustrated and helpless, especially in secondary education, where
they are obliged to teach music without musical instruments, with-
out books, without rooms, in classes of 25 - 30 pupils for 40
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
D. ZBAINOS ET AL.
minutes a week.
Teachers are considered to be the most important factor for
the development of creativity in education. As analyzed in the
introduction of this paper, it is necessary for the educator to be
able to recognize, understand and support pupils’ creativity, so
that s/he teaches accordingly.
The present study demonstrated teachers’ difficulties in un-
derstanding creativity and most importantly, in distinguishing
between creative and non creative elements of teaching. Espe-
cially as far as music creativity is concerned, it became evident
that teachers may recognize creative activities more through
their instinct and common sense than through their knowledge
and experience. This resulted in their view that music creativity
is something unclear and subjective, an inherent characteristic
that cannot be taught, that it does not exist in all pupils and,
thus, it is difficult—or even unethical—to assess it.
All music teachers should receive substantial training about
creativity in general and music creativity in particular, and they
should be provided all the valid methodology and practical ad-
vice for its teaching and assessment. Moreover, training should
not be offered only to newly appointed teachers, but also to the
experienced ones, as years of professional experience appear to
be strongly related to the implementation of creative activities.
Finally, the general conclusion of this study is that creativity
is considered to be important and desired as a primary aim of
music teaching, but at the same time, it is regarded by teachers
as something vague, mysterious and personal, thus its enhance-
ment and development without training is almost unfeasible in
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