Jamming the Classroom

Musical Improvisation and Pedagogical Practice
Ajay Heble and Jesse Stewart
Musical improvisation as a vehicle for teaching, learning, and enacting social justice
This title is open access and free to read on the web A free online version is forthcoming. This open access version made available by CURIE (Carleton University Research Impact Endeavour).


Drawing on original interviews with improvising musicians, on critical pedagogy and cultural studies, and on the authors’ personal histories with improvised music as a form of activism, community-based pedagogy, Jamming the Classroom examines how the teaching and learning of improvisational musical practices can be understood as vital and publicly resonant acts that generate new forms of knowledge, new understandings of identity and community, and new imaginative possibilities. The book takes its cue not just from the learning in conventional classrooms and credentialing institutions but also from the work that happens in and through broader communities of practice. Heble and Stewart ask how the improvisational practices of artists and the internal educational endeavors within community groups model—and enact—new forms of community-making and critical thinking, as well as what it means to theorize the pedagogy of improvised music in relation to public programs of action, debate, and critical practice and the context of material practices and struggles for institutional authority.

Ajay Heble is Professor of English at the University of Guelph.

Jesse Stewart is Associate Professor of Music at the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University.

Praise / Awards

  • “Coming from two authors who are improvisers themselves, and who have sought out the views and visions of improvising musicians and thoughtful scholars, Jamming the Classroom paves a pathway for honing one’s skills, for evaluating the process by which improvisation develops, and for offering a critical analysis of improvisation and how it is taught/learned. This is scholarship at its best, where in this case the very best minds on the topic are featured in support of themes surrounding improvisation and pedagogical practice.”

    —Patricia Shehan Campbell, University of Washington; Carleton University

  • “By highlighting the many ways that people learn and engage with musical improvisation, as well as the potential benefits of musical improvisation for both individuals and communities, Jamming the Classroom serves as a valuable contribution to—and indeed, may rise to the top of—the recent wave of studies that seek to trouble and expand received notions of musical values.”

    —David Ake, Frost School of Music, University of Miami

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 184pp.
  • 0.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-07636-9

  • $80.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-05636-1

  • $24.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-90375-7