This section contains information about my research projects over the past ten years. My focus has been on how jazz improvisation is learned, with a view to facilitating it’s teaching and learning more effectively. In my doctoral thesis I used schema theory as a framework to attempt to understand how all the various processes involved in learning a dynamic and adaptive skill such as improvisation, are integrated in real time (aural memory, audition, motor process, kinaesthetic elements, and so on). I am particularly interested in how specific information and skill is generalised and how novel ideas are created. From 2007- 2011, I was a Senior Lecturer in Jazz at Leeds College of Music and continued the research in a series of action research projects with students. There are also two academic papers: one that was presented at Cambridge in July 2011, giving an overview of jazz education and my research; the other was presented at the Leeds International Jazz Education Conference in 2004, describing how jazz musicians have learned to improvise in the past.
Finally there is a chapter written for the italian ‘Donne In Musica’ foundation’s book on the history of women jazz players in Europe. This was co-written with Catherine Parsonage, (now Catherine Tackley). We focused on a brief historical outline of British women jazzers and interviews with contemporary players. A future project could be to write a longer history, because there is so much of interest from a social, cultural and musical perspective and a lot of unpublished material.
This section contains reports written for the Musicians’ Union, in my role as Executive Committee member and document some of the conferences that I have attended as an MU delegate: the International Federation of Musicians conference in Johannesburg 2008, together with my speech against the use of music as an instrument of torture, and four Women’s TUC conferences in 2005, 2006 with my speech, 2007 and 2012. There is also a copy of my speech to the WTUC 2013 in support of freedom of expression.
The FIM report shows the scope of the international work undertaken by the federation and the major role that the British MU plays in supporting and taking that work forward. The WTUC reports are are presented to show the range of issues in which women trades unionists are involved, and also to publicise it.
There are also two reports commissioned by Arts Council England specifically for jazz. The first, completed in 2004, provided a snapshot of the quality, quantity and diversity of jazz music that was performed and promoted in the North West, and made recommendations that sought to encourage the generation of a ‘jazz economy’ and the organisation of a comprehensive northern touring circuit for the music. The report led to the setting up of North West Jazzworks with the remit of taking these and many other recommendations forward.
The second, from 2008, was a research project into jazz education provision in the North East. It was written to inform policy and strategy across the region, and also to act as a lobbying document for additional funding.