Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/16444
Title: 
Authors: 
Issue Date: 
Jul-2008
Citation: 
Dairianathan, E., & Stead, E. P. (2008, July). Improvisation and issues of formal and informal learning: A perspective from Singapore. Paper presented at the 28th International Society for Music Education, Bologna, Italy.
Abstract: 
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 selfenablement
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?
Description: 
This paper was presented at the 28th International Society for Music Education, held in Bologna, Italy from 20 - 25 Jul 2008
URI: 
ISBN: 
9780980456028
Website: 
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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