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Dairianathan, E., & Stead, E. P. (2004). Improvisation and music: Issues of assessment. In L. C. Chew (Ed.), Innovation & enterprise: Education for the new economy: Proceedings for the ERAS Conference (pp. 448-459). Singapore: Educational Research Association.
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.
This paper was published in the Proceedings of ERAS Conference held in Singapore from 24-26 November 2004
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