Critical Response Processes

As music educators, we are constantly seeking ways to help our students develop meaningful musical relationships. One way to achieve this is through the Critical Response Process (CRP), a four-step process for engaging with artistic works in progress. CRP was developed by Liz Lerman and John Borstel as a way to encourage critical discussion of creative works.

The process begins with a neutral question, such as “What did you see?” or “What did you hear?” This question allows participants to share their observations without judgment or evaluation.

The second step is “Artist as Questioner,” where the artist asks questions about their work. This step allows the artist to gain insight into how their work is being perceived and to receive feedback in a constructive manner.

The third step is “Neutral Questions,” where participants can ask questions about the work. This step allows for deeper exploration of the work and encourages critical thinking.

The final step is “Opinions,” where participants can share their opinions about the work. This step is important because it allows participants to express their thoughts and feelings about the work in a safe and respectful environment.

The CRP can be implemented in various music education settings, including composition classes, ensemble rehearsals, and private lessons. In composition classes, the CRP can be used to provide feedback on student compositions. In ensemble rehearsals, the CRP can be used to provide feedback on performances. In private lessons, the CRP can be used to provide feedback on student performances. CRP can also be scaled to fit any particular age group or developmental stage.

It is important to note that the CRP is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Liz Lerman and John Borstel encouraged users of the CRP to playfully apply and adapt the process to fit their context and purposes. After internalizing the main steps, formats, and sentence starters, each group naturally begins to deviate and co-create their own CRP.

The Critical Response Process is a valuable tool for music educators seeking to foster meaningful feedback and develop meaningful musical relationships with their students. By implementing the CRP in various music education settings, educators can provide constructive feedback in a safe and respectful environment, encouraging critical thinking and creativity.

Source: Guarriello, M. (2023). The Application of Synesthetic Principles to Foster Musical Creativity. Music Educators Journal, 109(4), 27–34.

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