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Can improvisation be taught?

Peters, Gary


Gary Peters


The aim of this article is to reconsider the (age old) problem of relating theory to practice in art education by placing it within the largely ignored context of improvisation. In so doing it is hoped that some of the well-known 'difficulties' art practitioners have when confronted with the (usually mandatory) history and theory components of their programmes of study might be better understood and, perhaps, managed rather differently. © NSEAD/Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005.


Peters, G. (2005). Can improvisation be taught?. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 24(3), 299-307.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2005
Journal International Journal of Art and Design Education
Print ISSN 1476-8062
Electronic ISSN 1476-8070
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 299-307
Keywords improvisation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Based on an invited paper given at the Hawaiian International Conference of Education, Honolulu in 2005, this article represents the beginning of a research project concerned with raising the profile of improvisation as an aesthetic strategy across the disciplines of art, media, design, music, dance and theatre with a view to formulating a new improvisational aesthetic. Grounded in many years of experience as a practicing improviser, the paper uses a series of philosophical texts on art and art practice in order to deconstruct many of the key conceptual clusters that inhabit the world of improvisation. One of the purposes of Peters' research is to challenge some of the unspoken assumptions evident in writing and discussions on the nature of improvisation. In this instance, the paper scrutinises the hegemonic model of improvisation based, as it is, on avant-gardist notions of autonomy, critical reflection and novelty. It then proceeds by offering an alternative model that, it argues, fits more closely the reality of most practitioner's improvisational strategies. The paper is used as core teaching material at Harvard Graduate School of Education 'The arts in education: learning in and through the arts' citation ID 368570.

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