Enhancing Improvisation Pedagogy: A New Method to Target and Develop Auditory Memory

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemerapeer-review


Improvisation is enjoying a resurgence in classical music pedagogy. Increasingly it is recognised as a powerful teaching tool that can enhance students’ musicianship, illustrate theoretical concepts and improve student engagement. The act of improvising requires the musician to draw on their existing theoretical knowledge and their auditory memory of melodic style and nuance, in order to create and compose in the moment. The practice of specifically developing students’ auditory memory for improvisation can been found both in the teachings from the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Italian conservatories, and contemporary jazz curricula. Where improvisation is included in current classical music pedagogy however, there is no parallel method that can help develop a student’s necessary auditory memory of relevant melodic phrases and nuances. This paper addresses this by presenting a new, targeted method that prepares a student’s auditory memory prior to an improvisation task. This method has been designed using elements and principles from the two historic, established techniques for this purpose: Ran Blake’s Third Stream ear training method designed in the 1970s for contemporary jazz curricula; and the Italian solfeggio tradition from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This new method provides music teachers, regardless of voice or instrument specialisation, with the tools to help their students efficiently develop melodic auditory memories relevant for improvising, in any number of musical styles or genres. This study contributes a new resource to the growing field of improvisation pedagogy for classical musicians. It aims to improve student confidence and fluency as they learn to improvise, and increase teacher awareness of the role and importance of auditory memory in the process of improvisation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023
EventAustralian Society for Music Education 2023 National Conference: Music Unleashed - Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 3 Jul 20236 Jul 2023


ConferenceAustralian Society for Music Education 2023 National Conference
Abbreviated titleASME 2023
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Enhancing Improvisation Pedagogy: A New Method to Target and Develop Auditory Memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this