Modernizing European Higher Music Education Through Improvisation

About: History_


The METRIC Network is in fact the continuation of two previous projects: a strategic partnership supported by the ERASMUS+ programme, coordinated by the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (2015-2018) and a project initiated by the Royal Conservatoire of Den Haag in 2011, which ran for three years until 2014.

ERASMUS Intensive Projects on Improvisation – Royal Conservatoire of Den Haag (2011-2014)

This project, which consisted of three 10-day ERASMUS Intensive Projects on Improvisation, put the spotlights on improvisation in conservatoire education, which in many conservatoires it is still to be found in the dark corners of the curriculum, but at the same time can have an enormous impact on the artistic and technical development of young musicians.

The Intensives provided a wonderful (some even called it a life-changing) experience to students and teachers. They built up an international community of experts in the field, all high-level artists that did not always know each other before this project started. And they gave institutions an unprecedented insight into curriculum and pedagogical approaches. The three intensive projects also had different themes. The intensive in January 2012 was mainly focused on improvisation training and how to teach improvisation, while the second edition in February 2013 focused on the dissemination of improvisation in different contexts using the community of the Royal Conservatoire and the city of The Hague as a test ground. During the third and final edition in February 2014, the ensembles, following an initial preparatory period at the beginning of the intensive, delved deeper into improvisation approaches and styles with the aim to develop artistic results of the highest quality that was presented at a final concert.

A remarkable international team of teachers was assembled to coach the development of the ensembles. A publication entitled “Improvisation? Just do it!” was published as a result of the first intensive in 2012. A film was made as a report of the third intensive in 2013, which can be seen below.

ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership - Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (2015-2018)

Following these three intensives, a challenge was identified: what kind of impact will these activities and improvisation in general really have on the curricula of our institutions? How do we continue with this unique cooperation and exchange of expertise? Faced with these challenges, the project consortium decided to apply for a ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership, coordinated by the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. With this Strategic Partnership, the cooperation that was established during the intensives would be taken to a next level, primarily by looking into teaching and learning practices in improvisation in more detail and by developing structural forms of European cooperation in the field of improvisation teaching through the development of a number of European Joint Modules in Improvisation. This led to the establishment of the METRIC Project.

Two important objectives of the 2011 EU Modernization Agenda were addressed in this project:

  • Improving the quality and relevance of higher education
  • Strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation.

Central to the METRIC Project were:

  • a Manual for teaching and learning Improvisation in European Conservatoires, which is designed as an online resource for institutions, teachers and students to improve the quality of their curricula, tuition and individual competences related to improvised music;
  • the creation of Joint European Modules, designed to share and develop the knowledge, traditions and experiences of the participating institutions by encouraging teachers and students to engage in educational mobility and cross-border cooperation.

During the running of the project, the group conducted an analysis of the situation regarding teaching and learning improvisation in the member institutions, which can be found here.

When the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership came to an end, the network believed it was essential to keep the METRIC Network intact in order to build further on what was achieved and continue providing opportunities to students and teachers to have meaningful experiences and exchanges in the area of improvisation.

In its new capacity, the METRIC Network welcomed two new member institutions: Royal College of Music Stockholm and mdw University of Music and Performing Art.



A short film about the European Intensive project on Improvisation held in Den Haag in 2013:


A short film made by Johan Stern about the IP of March 2017 in Den Haag can be seen here: