29 SES 01, Challenges and Possibilities for Improvisation in Music Education
First, results of a critical examination of how improvisation is defined and studied in music education research are presented. A systematic review of music education journals 1985-2011 was conducted treating the corpus of music education studies as an instrumental case. Content analysis was executed in order to understand how the notion of improvisation, its role, value and educative potential, have been constructed through these studies. Tracing the roots of the results of the analysis to wider music education literature a theory about music education’s constructions of manifold approaches and visions of improvisation pedagogy in music education research is suggested. Secondly, the focus is targeted on an instrumental case study fn free choral improvisation, a rare phenomenon that enables playfulness and equal access to music making for participants regardless of age or musical skills. The practice places social interaction and play at the heart of the activity enabling potential learning in and through the arts, in “third space”. Stimulated recall and focus group interviews were conducted in 2013-2015 with 16 members of two choral groups whose members are both professionals and amateurs in music and/or theatre. The creative practices of both groups combine and apply principles of constructive interaction from improvisational theatre in free vocal improvisation. Preliminary results of how the members narrate the role of music, improvisation and play are presented asking: what meanings the participants assign to the activities, and how they define these activities in the choir context that is centered on collaboration beyond musical qualities. This presentation argues for the pluralist possibilities of improvisation as a practice legitimated in education on the basis of its deeply experiential, meanwhile ephemeral qualities. The study dismantles conceptual hierarchies that reserve musical improvisation only for particular forms of musicianship or tie it only to technical or theoretical music skills and brings forth a pluralist view of improvisation arguing for its meanings and potentials for music making, education and equality.
Creswell, J. W. 2007. Qualitative inquiry & research design. Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc. Hickey, M. 2009. Can improvisation be ‘taught’?: A call for free improvisation in our schools. International Journal of Music Education, 27, 285-299. Hickey, M. 2015. Learning from the experts: A study on free-improvisation pedagogues in university settings. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62(4), 425–445. Hulme, R., Cracknell, D. & Owens A. 2009. Learning in third spaces: developing trans-professional understanding through practitioner enquiry. Educational Action Research, 17( 4), 537–550. Johnstone, K. 1979. IMPRO: Improvisation and the theatre. London: Faber and Faber. Rowe, V. C. 2009. Using video-stimulated recall as a basis for interviews: some experiences from the field. Music Education Research, 11(4), 425-437. Stake, R. E. 1995. The Art of Case Study. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Publications. Sutton-Smith, Brian. 1997. The ambiguity of play. London: Harvard University Press. Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press. Wright, R., & Kanellopoulos, P. 2010. Informal music learning, improvisation and teacher education. British Journal of Music Education 27(1), 71.
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