Modernizing European Higher Music Education Through Improvisation

Institutions: London

London: Guildhall School of Music and Drama London

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is one of the world's leading music conservatoires and drama schools, offering musicians, actors, stage managers and production artists an inspiring environment in which to develop.

The School is a global leader of creative and professional practice, promoting innovation, experiment and research. The top-rated conservatoire in the Guardian University Guide 2019league table for Music, it has over 900 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. The School is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhalland the Centre for Young Musicians.

Improvisation has been a central element throughout the Guildhall School’s activities for many years. From Music therapy, Jazz, pathways of leadership courses, to drama courses and cross-art projects.

 For the last three decades, classical improvisation (tonal and tonally-free) and its various applications in performance are integrated into performers’ training and practice. Taught in both solo and chamber music contexts from undergraduate to Masters’ and Artist Diploma levels, the practice of improvisation, (including its teaching and learning) regains its place as an integral part of the art-music performance. This includes real-time harmonic, stylistic and structural awareness, improvising in the different classical styles and genres as well as active listening and expression. Intensive modules of classes involving actors and musicians working jointly through group improvisation take place at Masters’ level.

A doctoral course, focusing on improvisation, its nature and applications, is offered to students who can demonstrate exceptional performance and research ability in the discipline. 

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Research at Guildhall »


Examples of Guildhall-related research concerning Improvisation:

integrating classical improvisation within repertoire performance:


Head of the Centre for Creative Performance & Classical Improvisation:

Professor David Dolan


Teaching staff:

Simon Gilliver


Rosie Bowker


Oscar Perks