You are on page 1of 2


Improvisation can be daunting to students and teachers alike and finding ways
to diffuse tensions and create an open environment for exploration are
important for student success. This welcoming space for improvisation can
exist in a variety of different ways. Dalcroze used coordinated movement in
conjunction with improvisation and solfege to allow free expression and
establish a strong internal rhythmic pulse. The solfege and improvisatory foci
of his method often take a backseat to the eurhythmics (for which he is best
known) but were crucial to the complete method. Including authentic
improvisation in a classroom can be puzzling for teachers yet is a vital
component to other music philosophies including the Gordon Institute for
Music Learning. Finding ways to incorporate music from the students’ lives
and the community can make this process easier. The relevance of content in a
music curriculum is important to students and community members, as the
curriculum should reflect the students within, and the community around it.
Including songs and dances known around the area allows opportunities for
expansion and collaboration with institutions beyond the school and helps
provide students with background knowledge on the music they see in daily
life. This music can also offer accessible opportunities for improvisatory
activities, giving students a relatable context for their own creativity. Beyond
community values, each student must be allowed to honor their own culture in
the music classroom and should feel respected and valid in that space. This
begins with an informed understanding of the students’ communities and
identities which can only be achieved through discourse between student and
teacher. Using information provided by the student to inform musical choices
is a good way to welcomed that improvisatory element to a classroom. Careful
study of materials and discussions with students allow a teacher to
appropriately create activities where improvisation can occur in a relevant
context. This nexus of local music, personal culture, and improvisation can
create an exciting classroom for all.
Research Questions

- How can teachers appropriately adapt student and community materials

to allow for improvisation through movement, melody, rhythm, and
- To what extent do American general music classrooms reflect students’
cultures in their improvisatory activities?


Audiation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2018, from

Volz, M. D. (2005). Improvisation Begins with Exploration. Music Educators

Journal, 92(1), 50-53. doi:10.2307/3400227

Frego, R, J. D. (n.d.). The approach of Emily Jacques-Dalcroze [blog post]. On

the Alliance for Active Music Making. Retrieved from:

Volk, T. M. (1994). Folk Musics and Increasing Diversity in American Music

Education: 1900-1916. Journal of Research in Music Education, 42(4), 285-
305. doi:10.2307/3345737