Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Enforced spontaneity: Perspectives from non music-specialist tertiary students learning free improvisation in Singapore
    (2009-06) ;
    Stead, Peter
    Improvisation is a free elective course offered by the Music Department to students from all disciplines at the main University. Our earlier studies on the non music-specialist students enabled through improvisation have articulated in/formal processes in both reflexive and reflective thinking processes (Dairianathan & Stead 2006, 2008) which we argue are based on the concept of askesis, notably meletē and gymnasia, in the Stoic tradition (Foucault, 1988). Although improvising is based on prior experience, an area not yet critically examined is the way in which that experience is brought together with the immediate requirement to improvise in the moment. In this paper, we study one group of participants whose discussions brought about a consensus that, in their final performance: we would improvise on-the-spot on the performance day itself. In so doing, this group intentionally gave themselves minimal prior rehearsal; what these participants refer to as the in-the-moment (ITM) factor. This study is reliant on an analysis of participants’ performances and excerpts from their journal reflections which critically examine what it means for learners to be engaged in the moment when improvising.
      137  248
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Improvisation and issues of formal and informal learning: A perspective from Singapore
    (2008-07) ;
    Stead, Peter
    Our paper deals with improvisation and the degree to which expert or formalised knowledge helps or hinders free improvisation. In Lucy Green’s research on learning among musicians in popular culture, we note a similar lack of communication between formal training and the informal processes through which improvisational ability is acquired. Discussions on musical improvisation tend to concentrate on instrumental proficiency and musical conventions. However, as musical ability differs from culture to culture, so do expectations of musical improvisation. By studying the ways in which non-music specialists are enabled in musical improvisation, we aim to demonstrate the importance of informally acquired skill as well as discover processes that are common to those who are formally trained. This paper relies on a study conducted between July and October 2005 where a group of Physical Education teachers participated in an undergraduate course on improvisation. Research data were obtained from their journal entries and essays. Our findings yield five observations about improvisation and non- music specialist teachers. 1. Improvisational ability can be improved even for those who have had no formal musical training; 2. The improvising activities of nonmusic teachers reveal a considerable variety and diversity of formal and informal resources; 3. Non-music teachers’ views of and about music compare favourably with ethnomusicological views of Blacking and “inclusive” views of Schafer; 4.Enabling non-music specialist teachers has yielded a valuable and valid “informal” musical route to the teaching and learning of improvisation; 5. The teaching and learning of musical improvisation via informal processes has helped non-music specialist teachers towards self-enablement in their everyday lives. Besides underlining the importance of informal learning processes, enabling non-music specialists through musical improvisation challenges the privileging of “musical” skills in musical improvisation at the expense of the uniqueness of “individually informed” skill. A challenging question for music education is which of these skills should be given priority and privilege in the teaching and learning of musical improvisation, and to what extent curricula in music institutions can support both modes of learning?
      264  233
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Improvisation as real-time thinking and rehearsing: An exploratory study in Singapore
    (2006-07) ;
    Stead, Peter
    The skill of improvisation is seen to be important in the development of any musician, although its relative importance varies according to period and genre. Christopher Azarra (2002, 171) asserts that as an essential component of music throughout history…improvisation involves an ability to make music spontaneously within specified musical parameters. Improvisation is then dependent on the condition that performers are able, first of all, to be ‘proficient in the language they speak’. Musical improvisation, therefore, seems comfortably positioned in the training of those who are well-versed “in this language”. As language differs from culture to culture, so do expectations of musical improvisation. John Blacking (1973, 100) argues what is ultimately of most importance in music cannot be learned like other cultural skills: it is there in the body, waiting to be brought out and developed, like the basic principles of language formation.
      153  260
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Learning through popular music, lessons for the general music programme syllabus in Singapore
    (Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore, 2024) ;
    Hilarian, Larry Francis
    ;
    Stead, Peter
    ;
    ;

    This project sought to investigate the identity, role and function of popular music within classroom-based education in Singapore.

    Popular music is characterised by: (i) lnterdisclplinarity (music, dance, poetry, theatre, etc); (ii) It suffuses the lives of school-going youth in their out-of-school curriculum. (iii) Skill acquisition is frequently gained through more informal learning than is usual in institutional settings (Green, 2002). (iv) Participation in popular music by various communities seems to cut across ethnic, religious and age boundaries, which makes popular music participation an interesting study in social integration. (v) Engaging in popular music potentially provides students life-long engagement The impact of popular music in the classroom has not been fully explored.

    Creating, performing and responding to popular music genres arguably act as an apt medium of and for self expression considering the complex nature of an ever-shifting demographic mix and strategies to bring about more effective social integration across communities-of-practice (Wenger 1998) engaging the later cosmopolitan society in Singapore.

    The GMP (2008) document supports the value of popular music beginning with musical skills of composing, improvising and recreating extending to identity formation and multiplicity in identity negotiation in group dynamics (MOE 2008, pp. 7-10). Current broader educational aims are to develop creative, imaginative and socio-culturally well-tempered individuals and popular music has an important educational role to play in this respect. Dairianathan and Lum (2010) have discovered how popular musics re/iterate their place in the music curriculum for music as lived and living space.

    Secondary factors crucial to this research are: (a) to examine the place of popular music in local public and international schools across Singapore, (b) to draw out the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for school-going youth to be engaged in popular music and (c) to critically examine popular music immersion in relation to the objectives established in the GMP syllabus (MOE 2008).

      12  93
  • Publication
    Open Access
    Improvisation and music: Issues of assessment
    (2004-11) ;
    Stead, Peter
    Much of the discussion in the literature on improvisation is addressed to those who are already trained and facile in its practice. At the Music department of the Visual and Performing Arts Academic group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Improvisation is offered as an elective to all students in the undergraduate programmes, including non-music students. An exploratory study has been carried out at the Music Department of VP A, NIE, NTU (Dairianathan, 2003) on the impact of improvisation for the mature beginner in music; defined here as one who possesses little or no prior formal or certified musical training. What does it mean to have participants in a twelve-week module who are mature beginners to such processes with little or no formal training? What can be delivered to the "adult beginner" to make improvisation an engaging, yet informed and interest sustainable experience? What sort of curriculum needs to be developed to serve such purposes? If these mature beginners area enabled, how are they assessed and what is the role of assessment in their learning experiences? By reviewing processes of assessment of these non-music majors during three runs of the module (July 2002, January 2003, January 2004), this study seeks to examine the nature, role and significance of assessment, first in the students' creative activities and projects; secondly in evaluating the impact of improvisation; and thirdly, whether musical improvisation activities have any bearing on thinking, learning or activity not related to music. The eventual objective is to critically assess the correlation of assessment in this context to the learning outcomes in the module and offer some helpful suggestions towards assessing free improvisation in the classroom.
      268  219