The pros and cons of the music theory approach to vocal jazz improvisation

Hargreaves, Wendy ORCID: (2013) The pros and cons of the music theory approach to vocal jazz improvisation. In: 8th International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT 2013), 10 July - 14 July 2013, Brisbane, Australia.

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Teaching music theory has been well regarded as an effective pedagogical approach to jazz improvisation. It has become the basis of many a tertiary jazz syllabus and spawned countless texts (e.g., Aebersold, 1992, Coker & Baker, 1981; Crook, 1999; Reeves; 2001). Closer inspection however reveals the theoretical pathway does not fit the vocal student as neatly as the instrumentalist. This presentation explores the strengths and weaknesses of the method and considers the educational implications it generates.

The datum utilised in the presentation was obtained from a two phase, mixed methods study conducted as part of doctoral research at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. Phase one surveyed 209 Australian jazz vocalists and instrumentalists, investigating their perceptions and experiences of jazz education and performance. PASW was used to conduct chi square analysis of the datum. Phase two employed qualitative interviews of 22 Australian jazz vocal performers and/or jazz educators in Australian tertiary institutions. NVivo was used to assist the thematic analysis of the datum. The presentation will incorporate PowerPoint to display findings in the form of graphs and pertinent quotations from the interviews. Combined, the results create a vivid picture of the vocalist’s experience of learning jazz improvisation via the music theory pathway.

In exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the music theory approach, the presentation will outline the advantages of equipping students with a cognitive focus, a measurable curriculum and a common language for discussing musical elements. It will also present the difficulties the lack of visual motor feedback creates in the conceptualisation and application of jazz devices in absolute pitch. In the light of these findings, specific recommendations are made for teachers to adjust the music theory approach to improve its effectiveness for vocal students.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2022 02:45
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2022 22:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: jazz, improvisation, vocalists, music, music theory
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

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