Musical Improvisation Art Education And Society Pdf

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Improvisation is an articulated multidimensional activity based on an extemporaneous creative performance. Practicing improvisation, participants expand sophisticated skills such as sensory and perceptual encoding, memory storage and recall, motor control, and performance monitoring. Improvisation abilities have been developed following several methodologies mainly with a product-oriented perspective.

This article provides an overview of research on assessment of improvisation in music and offers suggestions for increasing its centrality in music teaching and learning. With listening, improvising, reading, and composing as context for music teaching and learning, it covers historical and philosophical foundations for, and research on, creativity and improvisation. Six elements repertoire, vocabulary, intuition, reason, reflection, and exemplars contribute to a holistic and comprehensive creative process that inspires spontaneous and meaningful music making. The article concludes with recommendations for replication and extension of research to provide insight for improvisation assessment.

Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society

This article provides an overview of research on assessment of improvisation in music and offers suggestions for increasing its centrality in music teaching and learning. With listening, improvising, reading, and composing as context for music teaching and learning, it covers historical and philosophical foundations for, and research on, creativity and improvisation. Six elements repertoire, vocabulary, intuition, reason, reflection, and exemplars contribute to a holistic and comprehensive creative process that inspires spontaneous and meaningful music making.

The article concludes with recommendations for replication and extension of research to provide insight for improvisation assessment. Keywords: improvisation , improvisation assessment , music learning assessment , musical creativity , musicianship , rating scale , rubric.

Sarath proposed that music curricula require reform to more fully embrace improvisation through multiple musical genres. Webster recommended expansion of research on this topic.

Based on research published between and , Running reviewed definitions of creativity, measures and evaluations of creativity, and effects of music instruction on creativity. The purpose of this article is to summarize research literature on improvisation and assessment in music and present recommendations for assessing improvisation.

We review and synthesize literature and present future directions for research. We a provide an overview of improvisation assessment literature, including historical and philosophical foundations, a summary of general creativity research and improvisation research, and assessment of improvisation; b synthesize research pertaining to principles of musicianship that researchers have documented, benefits of improvisation, and musical exemplars from a variety of genres; and c present insights for assessing improvisation and offer suggestions for future research.

While improvisation has been central to music making throughout history and has been the subject of policy documents e. To clarify the role of improvisation in music classrooms, music educators should develop curricula that define objectives, methods, teaching techniques, and assessment. This article focuses on assessment of improvisation.

Assessment may involve measurement objective , evaluation subjective , or both. Music teachers continuously assess student learning when students listen, sing, move, play, create, improvise, read, create, compose, notate, compare, understand, and analyze music.

State music education associations e. Improvisation is an opportunity for students to demonstrate comprehension of a musical concept Azzara ; Grunow ; J. Scott While improvisation should be pervasive throughout P—12 and collegiate curricula Marshall a , b ; Snell and Azzara and may occur in a variety of school music settings, it still is not central to curriculum Azzara ; Campbell ; Shuler Improvised musical traditions throughout the world involve oral transmission and learning by ear.

Drawing on cognitive neuroscience, analysis of interviews and musical improvisations, and historical pedagogical treatises on improvisation, Berkowitz provided historical perspectives on improvisation and cognitive analysis of learning to improvise. He made cross-cultural comparisons from a variety of traditions, including South Slavic epic poetry, jazz, and Javanese gamelan.

He also provided examples of historical treatises written by a range of musicians, including C. Bach, Czerny, and amateurs. He noted that throughout these texts, oral tradition, vocabulary, and harmony provide a foundation for improvising and in improvisation performance Berkowitz , Improvisation has been taught and studied throughout history Berkowitz ; Levin ; Nettl , including in classical, jazz, popular, and folk traditions.

Although improvisation in classical music contexts declined in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Moore , improvisation is regaining prominence in classical music performance. Philosophically, improvisation plays an important role in life and the arts Nachmanovitch and is a primary means for creating music fluently and spontaneously Alperson ; Asmus ; Azzara , ; Campbell ; Elliott ; Gordon ; Gould and Keaton ; Green , ; Kratus ; Reimer ; Snell These authors were describing what Csikszentmihalyi identified as flow.

Dewey [] wrote that experiential learning is essential to education, and that teachers should provide students with fluid opportunities for learning through experience and reflection in the moment. Azzara and Webster reviewed research in improvisation and assessment of creativity, respectively; their literature reviews served as a point of departure for this article.

This section a summarizes musical creativity research in general and b reviews music improvisation literature, including brain and cognitive science research, as well as music improvisation and composition as generative processes. Webster documented literature regarding research on assessment of creative thinking in music. Azzara , summarized development of research on measuring musical creativity, including work by Guilford and Hoepfner , Torrance , Gorder , Pressing , Webster , and Hassler and Feil Refer to Running for a review of research on creativity in music published between and Because creative thinking in music can be an acquired behavior Koutsoupidou , researchers have examined how to help students learn to think creatively.

In an examination regarding evaluation of musical improvisation, Eisenberg and Thompson identified the following dimensions based on CAT: complexity, creativity, technical goodness, and overall liking. In this study, judges were not provided with specific criteria for evaluating these dimensions.

Gordon posits that meaningful improvisation requires audiation of what one is creating and improvising. Based on our review of creativity research, improvisation is defined and measured in a variety of ways. This diversity continues to compound interpretation and application of research. Common themes confirm that students can learn to create and improvise meaningfully to varying degrees if we provide them with opportunities to express their creative potential and prioritize processes and skills associated with musical creativity.

Many research questions may be addressed by examining the role of assessment in music improvisation. Based on an extensive examination of scholarship related to improvisational practices, Higgins and Mantie suggested that improvisation can be defined in at least three ways: a as a component of a holistic view of musicianship i.

Students demonstrate comprehension of music when engaged in multiple musical vocabularies, including listening, improvising, reading, and writing Azzara , ; Berninger ; Burton ; Gordon ; Grunow This is analogous to English language arts teachers regularly assessing student understanding by inviting students to engage in several language vocabularies, including speaking, reading, writing, and summarizing content in their own words see, e.

Brain and cognitive science researchers have investigated musical improvisation in relation to cognitive processes. Recent advances in use of functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI allow scientists to map which areas of the brain activate when research participants engage in musical improvisation Bengtsson, Csikszentmihalyi, and Ullen ; Berkowitz and Ansari , ; Donnay et al.

Donnay and colleagues found that musical discourse engages areas of the brain specialized for processing of syntax, but in a manner that is not contingent upon semantic processing. Specific to music education research, Cooper related singing and movement to developing a musical vocabulary. Gruhn found that audiation can be mapped by brain imaging.

They further stated:. The process of improvisation is involved in many aspects of human behavior beyond those of a musical nature, including adaptation to changing environments, problem solving and perhaps most importantly, the use of natural language, all of which are unscripted behaviors that capitalize on the generative capacity of the brain.

Researchers and philosophers often regard musical improvisation and composition as complementary processes on a continuum Alperson ; Sarath Sloboda provided varied perspectives on how music is improvised and composed as a generative process. Sarath suggested that composition and improvisation differ temporally; when composing, musicians are able to reflect and revise. Pressing documented a model for moment-to-moment choices made as improvisors generate music.

Because of the complementary processes inherent in improvisation and composition, music composition research has the potential to inform research on assessment of improvisation. Specific to music composition as a generative process, researchers and pedagogues have provided a variety of approaches with which to engage students in music composition e. In a case study, Upitis found that children can improvise and create music without having the ability to read notation.

Shewan described possibilities for student learning in a high school curriculum that included opportunities for all students to compose music while enrolled in the instrumental music program.

Regarding feedback for student compositions, in a survey of Indiana music educators, Strand reported that Azzara recommended future researchers continue to examine the improvisation process and inclusion of improvisation in comprehensive music education curricula. Azzara also identified a gap in improvisation criteria used in elementary general music and secondary, postsecondary, and jazz settings.

By contextualizing musical content, students begin to attain the skills necessary to improvise with meaning , Similarly, Odena recommended researchers examine musical creativity through four themes: differentiating personal needs, environmental context for creativity, the creative process, and assessing the creative product Benson considers all of life to be improvised. To assess musical creativity and improvisation, teachers must be comfortable engaging in these skills and processes Abrahams ; Bell ; Byo ; Louk ; Orman ; Riley ; Shuler Students can learn to improvise meaningfully if teachers provide instruction focused on skills that are beneficial for learning and performing music creatively.

Teachers can assess improvisation, and improvisation provides a means for assessing music learning. In a music curriculum that embraces creativity, students improvise to learn music, learn to improvise music, and improvise music to learn Campbell , Competencies for learning to improvise and compose include singing, movement, and playing by ear to learn melodies, bass lines, tonal patterns, rhythm patterns, cadences, harmonic progressions, sequencing, and voice leading.

These competencies informed our review of improvisation research. We reviewed studies wherein researchers documented criteria and vocabulary used when assessing musical improvisation. Studies we reviewed fell into the following general categories: elementary general music, elementary instrumental music, secondary instrumental music, vocal jazz, high school jazz, collegiate music study, collegiate jazz, and adults with varied improvisation experience.

We found that criteria and language in the improvisation assessment literature were generally consistent with dimensions and criteria from rating scales published in Developing Musicianship through Improvisation DMtI ; Azzara and Grunow , a , b.

These rating scales have been found reliable in previous research e. We organize the next section of this article based on common themes and language synthesized from our review. Specifically, we present rating scale vocabulary organized by the following principles: interacting, grouping, comparing, and anticipating and predicting Azzara , Table 1. Improvisation Rating Scale Azzara and Grunow Spontaneous interaction while improvising includes musical dialogue in solo performances and musical conversation among listeners and performers.

Saunders described conversational interplay between solo and accompaniment and linear solo melodic dialogue. Researchers also have documented prioritization of interaction in group assessment Barratt and Moore , interaction and dialogue with accompaniment Smith , and the interplay of call and response M.

Other criteria describing musical interaction include use of silence and space Hinz ; Watson ; tension and release, embellishment Hinz ; Smith ; Watson ; and appropriate style and characteristic tone quality Azzara ; Bitz ; May ; Saunders ; M. Scott ; Smith ; Watson Grouping pitches into meaningful patterns and phrases and paying attention to reuse of material are important aspects of learning to improvise. Researchers used terminology that referred to accurate tones, harmonic progressions, and awareness of form.

Madura and Bitz assessed accuracy of tones or notes. Specific to jazz, M. Scott assessed awareness of harmonic and structural elements of twelve-bar and thirty-two-bar forms.

Beyond documenting time, pulse, and a sense of meter, several researchers described criteria for improvisors generating rhythm patterns and developing cohesive motives in the context of musical structure and form Azzara ; Bitz ; Brophy ; Madura ; May ; Saunders ; Smith In addition, Azzara , Bitz , Madura , May , Smith , and Watson included an appropriate sense of style—for example, dynamics, phrasing, articulation, feel—and a sense of movement to music as important criteria for assessing ability to improvise.

Reusing related musical material, demonstrating elements of unity and variety, and developing musical motives through sequencing were also identified as criteria for demonstrating ability to group musical ideas and express them spontaneously and creatively when improvising Brophy ; Ciorba ; Hinz ; Madura ; May ; Saunders ; Watson Improvisors compare musical ideas in the process of developing them.

Similar to grouping, this ability to compare and to express musical ideas provides unity and variety in spontaneous musical performance. Creative reuse of material is important for both grouping and comparing.

When comparing, improvisors perform variations of themes and use appropriate musical style and tone quality Azzara ; Dickinson ; Madura ; Saunders ; Watson

Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society Gabriel Solis

Either your web browser doesn't support Javascript or it is currently turned off. In the latter case, please turn on Javascript support in your web browser and reload this page. This paper presents a model for the implementation of educational activities involving musical improvisation that is based on a review of the literature on the psychology of music. Psychology of music is a complex field of research in which quantitative and qualitative methods have been employed involving participants ranging from novices to expert performers. The intention is to delineate a reflective approach that goes beyond the mere instruction of some current practices of teaching improvisation in jazz pedagogy. The review highlights that improvisation is a complex, multidimensional act that involves creative and performance behaviors in real-time in addition to processes such as sensory and perceptual encoding, motor control, performance monitoring, and memory storage and recall. Educational applications for the following processes are outlined: anticipation, use of repertoire, emotive communication, feedback, and flow.

Edmund and Elliott C. Abstract: Improvisation is a fundamental aspect of musicianship and an important pursuit in music education. Children in music classes throughout the world are engaged with improvisation in a variety of modes and settings. We wish to share guiding principles for improvisation to alleviate many of the associated fears. The establishment of a classroom improvisation culture may breed willful participation and acceptance. When willful participation and acceptance become habitual, the goal of establishing a safe space for students to explore their musical creativity is more readily achieved. A manifestation of the guiding principles is shared in the form of two model improvisation experiences for the general music classroom.

Improvisation is an articulated multidimensional activity based on an extemporaneous creative performance. Practicing improvisation, participants expand sophisticated skills such as sensory and perceptual encoding, memory storage and recall, motor control, and performance monitoring. Improvisation abilities have been developed following several methodologies mainly with a product-oriented perspective. A model framed under the socio-cultural theory of learning for designing didactic activities on processes instead of outcomes is presented in the current paper. The challenge is to overcome the mere instructional dimension of some practices of teaching improvisation by designing activities that stimulate self-regulated learning strategies in the students.


Musical Improvisation: Art, Education and Society Edited by Gabriel Solis and Bruno Nettl Preface - Bruno Nettl Introduction - Gabriel Solis Part One: Society 1.


Five strategies for free improvisation

Even to the practicing musician though, the examination of its essence is difficult; what constitutes improvisation, and what does not? In order to truly assess its nature, let us compare it to composition and performance as kindred musical practices. Accordingly, we might ask - when does improvisation become composition?

Guiding Principles for Improvisation in the General Music Classroom

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Pedagogical applications of cognitive research on musical improvisation.

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