Creative Ability

The art of making choices

Creative Ability Development

A pedagogical approach designed to develop artistry through the disciplined repetition of improvisatory work within given parameters of structure and harmony.

CAD stand for "Creative Ability Development," a method of developing creativity in children. The author Alice Kay Kanack, nicknamed "Mozart's Mother" by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, has been teaching and developing this method since 1982.

The Premise

All children are born with creative ability. Any child's innate creative ability can be developed through the disciplined practice of creative exercises which allow the child complete freedom of choice. Great creative ability is the art of making choices.

Above: CAD students perform an exercise from "Improvising String Quartets." Its purpose is to create a piece of music comprised of three layers of interlocked ostinati. For additional videos of CAD students in action, see our Samples page.

What is Creative Ability Development?

Creative Ability Development is a philosophy and method based on the idea that inspiration can be taught through the disciplined practice of a creative thought process. The method was developed through a scientific analysis of the writings of great creative geniuses in all fields.

Why should a musician study it?

Concert artists are performance geniuses. They combine technical proficiency with a deeply personal style and understanding. When a student creates his own music, he develops a personal expressive style as well as a deeper understanding of where music comes from. He then becomes more sensitive to other composers and is better able to deeply express himself in different musical languages. This is commonly called musicality.

What are the philosophical goals of Creative Ability Development?

I believe, as many have before me, that great creative ability is born of the search for truth and beauty. In our search to understand our world, and in our need to create a better one, lie the roots of all genius and all of the growth and development of mankind. Creative Ability Development, through its method of constant creative activity and expression, helps to guide the student in his own personal search for truth and beauty. It is the ultimate goal of Creative Ability Development, that this search becomes a part of every student's way of life within and outside the field of music.

Who may study and who may teach Creative Ability Development?

Creative Ability Development is designed to be taught by parents and/or teachers. Since it is based on aural understanding rather than theoretical knowledge, very little musical training is required of the instructor. The student may begin as young as age two or whenever he begins his musical study. Creative Ability Development is organized in a direct relationship with Book 1 by Suzuki so that it may be easily studied along with the Suzuki method.

Essential Facts

  • Creativity is the art of choice.
  • Disciplined practice of the art of choice develops creative ability.
  • The freedom of choice necessary for creative development is achieved through the removal of criticism in the creative environment.
  • Rule #1 in CAD class and practice is "There's No Such Thing As a Mistake."
  • Recent studies have shown that the act of improvisation uses the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain--the part we use to describe ourselves. Therefore, the study of improvisation teaches us to tap into our own musical voice, developing a unique musicality in the process.
  • Inspiration is the third step in the creative process, following conscious work on a creative problem and a period of conscious rest wherein the subconscious takes over.
  • Inspiration can be defined as the point at which the subconscious communicates with the conscious.