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Project adds partner, researcher, post-doctoral fellows

The Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) project continues to grow with the addition of a new community partner, Give Yourself Credit, and a new research co-investigator, Deborah Wong.

Give Yourself Credit provides vulnerable youth, aged 16-21, the opportunity to obtain high school credits in a community setting. The target audience of the Guelph-based program are youth who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness, have personal circumstances that restrict them from attending high school (e.g. pregnancy, bullying, etc.), have experienced halted success in school, or for whom the regular school system has not been successful in providing a program to meet their needs.

Ethnomusicologist Deborah Wong teaches at the University of California, Riverside, and specializes in the musics of Asian America and Thailand. She has joined the Transcultural Understanding and Gender and the Body research group.

Post-doctoral fellows Sara Ramshaw, at the Centre de recherche en éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CRÉUM), and Rob Wallace, at the University of Guelph, also joined the project in the fall.

Ramshaw is is currently on leave from a full-time academic position at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the legal regulation of jazz musicians in New York City (1940-1967) through the lens of poststructural theory informed by feminism, race theory and musicology. Her postdoctoral research project, entitled “The Law of the Extempore: Improvisation and Social Change”, unpacks the relationship between law, improvisation and social change through the concept of the “extempore” .

Writer, musican, and scholar Rob Wallace holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the intersections between literature and music. As a postdoctoral fellow at Guelph he is preparing a monograph on improvisation and American literary modernism. He is also currently working on a narrative history of the drum set, and is an active percussionist in a number of genres ranging from Hindustani music to free improvisation.

Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace