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Birth of the school: discursive methodologies in jazz education

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Over recent years, jazz as an academic discipline has grown in volume and stature—indeed, jazz studies now plays a significant role in a number of higher education music programmes within the university and conservatoire sector. The proliferation of jazz education programmes has, inevitably, brought about the publication of specific pedagogical methodologies; from the development of jazz examinations to the widespread dissemination of Jamey Aebersold jazz ‘playalongs', and the work of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE)—jazz pedagogy is big business. However, whilst providing musicians with opportunities to cultivate and benchmark their skills, the majority of pedagogical publications do not encourage critical engagement with the educators' methodologies or, indeed, offer dialogues on the nature of jazz education itself. This article begins by examining the politics of music education, the implications of canon forming and icon development in pedagogical practice, and critical attempts to open up the field of study to broader cultural analysis. In this context, I discuss the unique problems faced by jazz education and suggest that these issues are inherently linked to the nature of the music itself. I focus on three areas of significance, which feed off opposing positions in jazz: the ‘value' of jazz education, geographical divides, and the perceived difference between jazz practice and social theory. My examination of the difficult social and cultural space occupied by education highlights the potential for educational methodologies to disrupt dominant ideologies, and to uncover related cultural myths.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leeds College of Music, UK

Publication date: 01 March 2006

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