Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies

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Project title: Improvising the Bridge: A Study of Improvisational Teaching Skills and Educational Design in an Arts-Infused Inquiry-Based Science Teaching Context

Project period: March, 2014 - February, 2018

Main supervisor: Dr. Jill Halstead

Co-supervisor: Prof. Magne Espeland


The project: The immediate background for this PHD project is the research project “Improvisation in Teacher Education”, IMTE at Stord/Haugesund University College.

The project will explore two iterations of a cross-disciplinary science and art school intervention with the double aim of studying 1) student teachers’ handling of improvisation within the pedagogical context (as research through interventions), thus exploring the development of improvisational performance within a complex educational reality, and 2)  the educational setting’s design (as research on interventions).

The educational intervention Write a Science Opera (WASO) is an inherently improvisational practice which provides a bridge between music, as an inherent element in opera education, and inquiry-based science education settings. At its heart lies the real-time design of the classroom and lesson’s structure by the pupils according to their cultural perspectives, tastes, and unique social interaction. As such, pupils must keep inventing these as the project progresses, and no two WASO projects will produce the same results. An improvisational ontology is required in order to imagine, and thereafter simultaneously plan and realize the creative output.

Improvisation in the classroom will be explored through student teachers’ experiencing simulations of improvised educational settings, as well as their practicing of specific improvisation training exercises modeled after jazz music pedagogy practices, and which will be developed during the study based on outcomes of its research.

Oded Ben-Horin is Associate Professor of Music at Stord\Haugesund University College. He leads the EU project “Implementing Creative Strategies into Science Teaching (CREAT-IT)” in Italy, UK, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, and Norway, as well as the “SkyLight: a Global Science Opera” project (International Year of Light 2015/UNESCO). He is a composer/vocalist in the European Economic Area project “Write a Science Opera (WASO)”. Oded is a PhD candidate within the “Improvisation in Teacher Education” project. His focus of musical activity is the meeting points of inquiry within science and art. He teaches vocal improvisation, ear training, and music theory at the University of Bergen.