Friday, 6 July 2012

Do the simple, silly thing

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.


  1. Simplicity is indeed a key as per our discussion about Smoke on the Water Charles - thanks for sharing this

  2. I think it was Google that wanted to help improve the health of their employees. They did two simple things: they put water (not surgery drinks) in the line of sight of employees using the canteen - and they made the plates smaller. Doing simple things can achieve significant things...


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