Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Introducing instrumental students to improvisation
    Dipnall, Mark Fairlie ( 2012)
    Improvisation has been an integral component of music practice throughout a variety of world musics, such as the Indonesian Gamelan, Japanese Kabuki Theatre, African drumming, Australian Indigenous music, Klezmer music, the Indian Raga, Jazz and Popular music. Instrumental tuition, within the present system of Western Education, on the other hand, tends to emphasise an early and ongoing commitment to the reading of notated music. Some of the literature in the area suggests that the emphasis for instrumental tuition should be concerned with improvisation thus producing opportunities to achieve a more personalised and independent result with music expression. By including improvisation within regular tuition the student instrumentalist could feel more at one with his or her own voice and imagination, rather than attempting to take on the role of reproducing the character and style of another person's notation. This thesis focussed on the development and provision of improvised music activities with high school students from Years 10 and 11. Consideration was given to how these improvised music activities might have impacted not only their improvisational skills but also broader attitudes to music. The study included a specifically designed curriculum emphasising improvisational techniques. It was constructed and implemented over a ten-week period with accompanying interviews, questionnaire and video. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of the implementation of this curriculum and how it could assist the learning and teaching of improvisation. The study's performance-ensemble consisted of rhythm and lead instrumentalists where all participants had the opportunity to engage with specific instrumental techniques that assisted the expression of improvisation. Simultaneously, all participants had the liberty of managing the lesson-content with original extemporised melody and composition. The results showed the participants experienced increased confidence with improvisation. The conclusion suggests that improvisation be viewed as an integral component within the teaching and learning of instrumental music.