Upcoming Seminars

Speaker: Dr Guro Gravem Johansen

Date/Time: Tuesday 5th December, 4pm

Location: Lecture Room A, Alison House

Title: Challenging epistemic culture in music education: What research on jazz, improvisation and popular music can teach us about teaching and learning music.



Understandings of teaching and learning rest on our understandings of what it is that we teach or learn. Much of research in music education in the Western world is situated within Western classical music, often with the implicit assumption that this specific music tradition carries universal features. Thus, the norms, values, procedures, and social configurations of teaching and learning have, only to a limited degree, been contextualized in music education research. Instead, such features have often remained tacit and taken-for-granted, rendering the knowledge culture associated with Western classical music in a hegemonic position by its claim of universality. Recently, research on teaching and learning in jazz, improvisation, and popular music has, by showing differences in cultural values and conventions between genres, challenged this hegemony and provided new understandings of teaching and learning. However, when we identify features of genre-specific knowledge cultures, we may still run the risk of presenting these as given and untouchable, and thereby creating new ‘universals’ and epistemic hegemonies.

Drawing on different theoretical frameworks such as the German-Nordic Musikdidaktik tradition and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, Johansen will in this lecture discuss dimensions of the problem area outlined above through three examples from her own research: instrumental practising on improvisation; a development project at the Norwegian Academy of Music on exploring practising across genres; and a study on children learning jazz improvisation from the beginning phases of learning to play an instrument.



Guro Gravem Johansen is a jazz vocalist and Associate Professor of Music Education at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH, Oslo), where she teaches courses in music education, jazz teaching methods, jazz aural training, and jazz vocal ensemble, as well as supervising postgraduate students. She holds a PhD on instrumental practising on improvisation. Johansen’s research interests are the teaching and learning of jazz improvisation, music perception and improvisation, and music and gender, and she has published several research articles and textbook chapters in the field. Currently, she is engaged as project leader for development projects in Centre for Excellence in Music Performance Education (CEMPE), at NMH. In these projects teachers and students explore approaches to instrumental practicing and improvisation, respectively, across musical genre. Johansen is further an active member of the International Society of Music Education (ISME), and represents Norway in the INA Council (ISME National Affiliation). As jazz vocalist she contributes on several Norwegian CD recordings, such as with Søyr, Østerdalsmusikk, Elin Rosseland, and her own jazz quartet Crazy Moon.