Grieg Academy Research Group for Jazz & Improvisation (GAIMPRO)

Keynote speaker: Grieg Academy Research Group for Jazz & Improvisation (GAIMPRO)

Time: Wednesday 10th June, 16:30 – 18:00
Title: Teaching Improvisation for Real – philosophical and didactical issues related to the process of teaching students how to be high-skilled jazz improvisers

Improvisation skills are emphasized as important in many different areas, and it is common to generalize and transfer knowledge about improvisation between different professions. In some research literature, jazz practice is used both as an example and a metaphor for the nature of improvisation.

In this presentation the members of GAIMPRO (The Grieg Academy Research Group for Jazz and Improvisation) will use their insider-position in jazz, improvisation and education to present and reflect on their own practice, both as jazz musicians and jazz educators.

The purpose of this presentation is to go in the opposite direction of generalizing knowledge and understanding of improvisation, and instead go more deeply into what improvisation means in jazz education. The following discussion will show whether this resonates with the understanding of improvisation in other areas/practices. The presentation will also include some music performance by the members of GAIMPRO.

Some questions that will be discussed are:

  • What is improvisation?
  • What do we want our students to learning during their BA-degree?
  • What kind of improvisation-related competencies are emphasized in our jazz study?
  • How do our students develop their improvisation competence?
  • How do we balance and integrate the relationship between theory and practice?
  • What is our role and mission as jazz educators in our students learning processes?

Sætre, Austad, Thormodsæter, Dahl – GAIMPRO







Assistant Professor Eivind Austad teaches piano, improvisation, jazz theory and jazz history. His research interest is in jazz performance practices in modern jazz from the 1950s and up till our time, aural-based improvisation methods with an emphasis on harmony and rhythm and arranging/composition.

Associate Professor Thomas T. Dahl teaches guitar, improvisation, combo classes and jazz theory. His research interests are in performance practices on modern jazz guitar, improvisation techniques, ensemble development and music production.

Associate Professor Steinar Sætre is the leader of the GAIMPRO research group and teaches in jazz theory and jazz history. His research interests are in the pedagogy, culture and practices of jazz education, performance practices in early jazz, arranging/composition and jazz history.

Associate Professor Magne Thormodsæter teaches bass, combo classes and jazz theory. His research interests are in performance practices – especially in piano-trio and quintet format, methods for ensemble playing and research on beat placement and general improvisation methods.

Key questions addressed by the lecture

  • What is improvisation?
  • How fruitful is it to generalize knowledge on improvisation and transfer it to different practices, related to developing a deeper understanding of improvisation in its own context?

Recommended reading
Ake, David ( 2002). Jazz ’Traning: John Coltrane and the Conservatory. In Jazz Cultures, pp. 112–145. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Alpherson, Philip: Aristotle on Jazz: Philosophical Reflections on Jazz and Jazz Education, in Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, No. 95, Research in Jazz Education (Winter, 1987/1988), pp. 39-60.
Prouty, Kenneth: Canons in Harmony, or Canons in Conflict: A Cultural Perspective on the Curriculum and Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation, in Research & issues in Music Education, September 2004: Vol. 2, No. 1.

Preparation for the session
Each candidate should try to develop a definition of what improvisation means, based on the literature available for this course.