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Activating and Developing Free Improvisational Creativities in Higher Education: Contesting Authority, Exploring Creativities, Stimulating Dialogue

Atton, Chris; Cowan, Matthew; Docherty, Harry; Farnish, Kaelin; Moir, Zack; Pattie, Euan


Chris Atton

Matthew Cowan

Kaelin Farnish


Clint Randles

Pamela Burnard


This chapter explores the concept of improvisational creativities in higher education and the ways in which such an approach to music education is beneficial. We report on a collaborative autoethnography, conducted by the authors, in which we explore our experiences of working together as a free improvisation group comprising students and staff from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Findings pertain to the ways in which our work challenged authority and hierarchies within traditional formats of music education, stimulated dialogue among participants, eschewed ‘method’, and activated and fostered a diverse range of musical, scholarly, and improvisational creativities. We advocate for the centrality of improvisational creativities in higher music education as such an approach makes possible a vision of music education that does not consider the transmission of knowledge, training, or skill acquisition as central; rather, as one that develops participants creatively, musically, interpersonally, and democratically, through an exploratory, collaborative, and ultimately liberatory praxis.

Online Publication Date Dec 29, 2022
Publication Date Dec 30, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2023
Publisher Routledge
Book Title The Routledge Companion to Creativities in Music Education
ISBN 9781032163611
Publisher URL