Years ago, I used to play the trumpet. One of the ways I ‘warmed up’ before a rehearsal or performance was to pick up my mouthpiece and play it by itself. This Spike Milligan like raspberrying never failed to gain a smile from anyone passing by, even if they were seasoned and professional musicians. Its silliness always seemed to appeal to people at a very instinctive, almost childlike level.
It was my turn to do the smiling when I heard the 2nd Trumpet
Concerto by H K Gruber. During a concerto it is usual for the soloist to make a
memorable and grand entrance. Gruber subverted this characteristic by making it
memorable but comic. The soloist made his first entrance by playing the
mouthpiece alone. It was a simple, silly thing to do but it brought a smile to
my face and immediately engaged me in what proved to be a very complex and
difficult piece of music.
Gruber achieved an extremely effective and original opening to his concerto
by having the courage to do the simple, silly, perhaps even childlike thing –
and it worked wonderfully!
One of the greatest blocks to our creativity is our inability to appreciate
simple, childlike, apparently silly or naïve approaches. Our serious, grown up
way of thinking blinds us to their potential usefulness and smothers any
childlike glimmers of interest we may fleetingly show in them.
If we are serious about wanting to address problems creatively we need to
allow ourselves to be silly, to explore the childlike simplicity of naïve
approaches. If we allow ourselves to do this we are likely to uncover ideas and
approaches previously censored from our minds.
We may even find that some of the so-called silly or childish ideas are in
fact the most simple, straightforward and effective ones to implement.