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April 2006 Character Quality -- Creativity
The following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
     The band struck up a rousing march during rehearsals one afternoon.  The conductor was
the famous composer of most of the marches they were performing; John Philip Sousa of “The
President’s Own” United States Marine Band.  As he listened to the band, his attention was
quickly drawn to the tuba section.  He knew they far exceeded the tone of the other brass
instruments.  They were too tinny, he realized, to be a component for a military band.  They
needed to be less harsh.  Consulting with an instrument manufacturer in Philadelphia, J. W.
Pepper, Sousa suggested a tuba that presented a full, warm tone.  Mr. Pepper took his
suggestion, revised the tuba, and renamed it the “sousaphone”.   Thanks to John Sousa’s
learned ear and J. W. Pepper’s creative knowledge, one of the most prominent instruments of
concert band came into existence.

    Creativity is approaching a need, a task, or an idea from a new perspective. When we realize
that something needs to be altered for greater efficiency, then we need to alter it.  Do not allow
thoughts of failing to keep progress back.  Sweet-meats, an old English delicacy, came from a
cook working for a lord.  He needed something more nutritious to appeal to the lord’s young son’
s tastes.  He invented a new type of cuisine that was both appealing and appetizing.  
    Creativity is seeing something for the principles it represents, not just the final product.  We
should step back and look at the bigger picture, constantly be on the lookout for new ideas, and
proceed with caution. Just because something has always been done a certain way does not
mean it is the best way.  However, we do need to discern when to push the limits and when to
uphold traditions.  Sometimes there is a reason for the tradition, and “improvements” may not
really make things better.  

Creativity may require sharpening the skills that we already have or gathering new information
or knowledge.  There are five steps in creatively tackling a project.
Know what your resources are.  The astronauts of Apollo 13 had very few basic items, but with
that, the ground crew was able to save their lives and bring them home safely.  Start with what
you have.  Ideas spring from need and as you work your way through, you may find that what
you use is much less than what you thought you needed.
Look for better ways to achieve.  Learn from others ideas and mistakes.  Ask for advice, or look
at the problem from a different angle.  Keep trying.  No matter how many times we may fail, for
the ancient proverb still stands, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! materials.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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