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Staging Improvisation: Issues and Challenges in Action Research
Örebro University, School of Music, Theatre and Art, Örebro University, Sweden. (Aestethics, Culture and Media)
Örebro University, School of Music, Theatre and Art, Örebro University, Sweden. (Aestethics, Culture and Media)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3758-7541
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Improvisation is and has been a distinguished feature of many music practices. Yet existing international literature shows that improvisation tend to be an overlooked activity in music classrooms. Music teachers find improvisation challenging and say they are uncomfortable teaching it.

Whilst improvisation features fairly prominently in academic scholarship in Anglophone countries, it has attracted little attention in continental Europe and Scandinavia. Much of the current research centres either on improvisation as an initial stage of composition or examines how musical elements are learnt through improvisation. In addition, to facilitate the study of improvisation it is fairly common that researchers orchestrate a specific project, taking place in school but outside of regular music lessons.

This paper draws from an ongoing PhD-project consisting of three sub-studies. It seeks to explore if and how improvisation practices in ordinary music lessons (years 4–6) develop when supported by a researcher. This ‘Participation Action Research’ (PAR) framework arguably provides a much more beneficial learning path than more conventional approaches, through the process of interaction between teacher and researcher. Nevertheless, there are also particular concerns in research using PAR which  have received far too little critical attention in existing literature. This paper will therefore be concerned with three methodological issues and challenges in PAR: (i) the advantages and disadvantages of staging the lessons to be studied, (ii) the role of the researcher as a scholar vs. a colleague, (iii) the concept of reflexivity.

We will demonstrate how PAR has the possibility to engender teachers’ confidence and thus develop improvisation practices in music classrooms. It shall, however, be argued that further critical reflection is necessary to expand on the scholarly contribution of PAR and to tackle the three issues above.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-53023OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-53023DiVA: diva2:1037792
The 9th International Conference for Research in Music Education (RIME). University of Exeter, Exeter, UK, April 14-18, 2015
Available from: 2016-10-18 Created: 2016-10-18 Last updated: 2016-10-19Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, ChristinaGeorgii-Hemming, Eva
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