Contemporary music students' experiences of improvisation in the classroom

Russell, Helen ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2087-7515 and Woodward, Bruce ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0098-2177 (2018) Contemporary music students' experiences of improvisation in the classroom. In: 2018 Australasian Jazz and Improvisation Research Network Conference, 1 June - 3 June 2018, Melbourne, Australia.


Abstract

The ability to improvise is at the core of the skillset of the contemporary popular musician. Beyond simply ‘taking a solo’, contemporary popular musicians often freely manipulate the elements of music during rehearsal and performance. Despite this widespread application of the practice, improvisation is rarely explored as a core part of the undergraduate experience in contemporary popular music program. More frequently, explicit instruction in and the sustained exploration of, improvisation remains a feature of jazz or improvised music programs. This research seeks to document the experiences of students in the final year of an undergraduate degree in contemporary popular music, as they encounter a semester-long course on improvisation – and explores questions about any perceived interrelationship between the study of improvising and other facets of musicianship.

The researchers work as full-time staff members in a regional Queensland university, teaching into a Bachelor of Creative Arts program (BCA). Students entering the BCA often have little experience of improvising – many have developed their musicianship informally, or have been taught in pedagogical traditions that do not feature improvisation. Students in the BCA encounter a variety of musics during the course of the degree, though the focus of their music practice deals with contemporary popular music since 1950. As a result, students are often called on to improvise during performances. In order to support this, The study of improvisation appears in two music theory courses.

Using qualitative data collected from participant observation, questionnaire and unstructured interview, the researchers examine the students’ impressions of the improvisation course, their ideas about how improvisation plays a role in their practice, and their ideas of how the study of improvisation impacts their musicianship. As part of a study spanning several years, this paper reports on early themes that emerge from the initial data, and the experiences of the researchers.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2022 04:55
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 04:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: improvisation, musicianship, music education
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360302 Music composition and improvisation
36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360303 Music education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1301 Arts > 130102 Music
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/48181

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