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The Pedagogical Imperative of Musical Improvisation

Scott Thomson

Published: 2007-12-03

This essay responds to the twinned questions, "How do musicians learn to improvise?" and "What skills are they learning as they are doing so?" The pedagogical theory that is the outcome essentially redefines improvisation as the enactment of the skills (or attributes) that can only be learned in collaborative performance. From there, I consider relationships between the micrological, performance-based pedagogy of improvisation and the formation of scenes that coalesce within urban locales, using the burgeoning creative music scene in Toronto as an example.

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Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis