29 SES 01, Challenges and Possibilities for Improvisation in Music Education
Improvisation occurs in a diverse range of musical genres (e.g. jazz; contemporary classical; Indian music) and creative contexts, with a distinct function in each setting (MacDonald, Wilson et al. 2012). The creative possibilities of free improvisation in music education have been investigated, but not fully realized (Hickey 2009). Two original constructs are proposed to delineate the strengths that children may build through such an approach. Socio-Musical Aptitude (S-MA) is the capacity to apprehend others’ skills and personal qualities within a group playing together and to accommodate these in an appropriate musical response. Creative Musical Agency (CMA) is the capacity to invent new music, executing their personal aesthetic, and contribute effectively to a creative context. This research will test and evaluate a novel method of delivering music education to preschool children based on the improvisational processes of professional free improvisers and on eight years of delivering early years music workshops. The intervention, delivered twice weekly over six weeks is designed to develop S-MA and CMA. The researcher will implement this intervention and examine it using qualitative methods though two cycles of action research with different groups of pupils in their preschool year (each n=~6, aged 4). Video data from the intervention will be sampled and analyzed using multimodal interaction analysis (Norris 2004) to gain a rich, nuanced picture of socio-musical interactions and expressions of creativity during the children’s free improvisations. In-depth interviews with the children’s parents and teachers will be subjected to Thematic Analysis. Additionally, the views of pedagogical experts on the children’s creativity and socio-musical communications will be gathered. Results from the fieldwork in October/November 2015 and April/May 2016 will be reported, to show how the children’s responses reflect developing S-MA and CMA, and how the intervention has been developed through the process of action research. Investigating and assessing this intervention is important since there has not been a study of improvisation in an educational context with a group of this size and age. As more research looks at how improvising can enable creativity in children, effective methods of teaching are needed, and this research examines a promising and innovative approach rooted in improvisational and pedagogical practice. In Scotland the Curriculum for Excellence specifies teaching all subjects creatively; teaching music through improvisation from an early age offers a valuable model whose insights into group creative processes can inform other subject areas.
Hickey, M. (2009). "Can Improvisation Be "Taught"?: A Call for Free Improvisation in Our Schools." International Journal of Music Education 27(4): 285-299. MacDonald, R. A., G. B. Wilson and D. Miell (2012). Improvisation as a creative process within contemporary music. Musical Imaginations: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Creativity, Performance and Perception. D. J. Hargreaves, D. Miell and R. A. R. Macdonald. Oxford, Oxford Univ Pr: 242-255. Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction: A methodological framework. . New York and London, Routledge.
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