Learning improvisation through play


The story behind the game

Lead researcher

Jean-Philippe Després, Ph. D.

Jean-Philippe Després (Ph. D.) is currently a professor in the Faculty of Music at Université Laval. He conducts funded research projects on inclusive approaches to music teaching and learning, and on the development of playful music teaching materials. His research has been published in the British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Frontiers in Education, Research Studies in Music Education, Journal of Research in Music Education, Thinking Skills and Creativity, the online scientific journal of the Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique, Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music/Revue canadienne de musique, Les Cahiers de la Société québécoise de recherche en musique, and Revista internacional de educación musical. His main areas of interest are innovative and inclusive approaches to music education, creativity, improvisation and learning through play.


Improvison grew out of the results of my doctoral project (FRQ-SC, SSHRC and OICRM), entitled Processus d’apprentissage et de création des improvisateurs experts en musique classique which shed new light on the learning path, creative strategies and teaching approaches of expert improvisers in classical music.

More specifically, my Ph.D. project revealed a gap between available pedagogical methods and the practice of experts in musical improvisation (Després, 2017; Després et al., 2015, 2017). Experts use several musical improvisation strategies that do not focus on pitch selection, while currently available improvisation methods, according to my findings, mainly emphasize the acquisition of strategies that focus on pitch selection. This project investigate the influence of playful learning on the development of creative skills that are manifested in improvisation.Ainsi, ce projet vise à développer du matériel pédagogique basé sur les principes de l’apprentissage par le jeu afin de faciliter l’acquisition, chez les instrumentistes de niveau débutant ou intermédiaire, de stratégies d’improvisation musicale qui sont mises en œuvre par les experts du domaine et à documenter les impacts perçus de ce matériel.