British Journal of Music Education

Research Article

Integrating theory and practice in conservatoires: formulating holistic models for teaching and learning improvisation

Catherine Parsonagea1, Petter Frost Fadnesa1 and James Taylora1

a1 Leeds College of Music, 3 Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7PD, UK,,


Academic study has become a more significant part of a conservatoire education in recent times, but it has not always informed performance as effectively as it might. There is a need for further development of an academic curriculum that is specifically relevant to performers, in which the links between theory and practice are made explicit rather than expecting students to construct these for themselves. This article reports on research into the integration of theory and practice at Leeds College of Music, UK, using jazz improvisation as a case study. Pilot teaching sessions within two modules explored ways in which students can be encouraged to engage actively with an appropriate academic curriculum that is embedded within a holistic learning experience.