Learning Music for Fun, Not Credit

The Value of Popular Music Practice in the Extra-curricular University Jazz Ensemble


  • Tom Sykes Liverpool Hope University (IASPM branch: UK & Ireland)




extra-curricular activity, Artistic Research, big band, community


This article is a critical reflection of a small, practice-based project involving a university big band. Music was written specially for the project by the author, who is the band director, and this big band is an extra-curricular ensemble made up of both students and musicians from the local community. The project uses an Artistic Research approach, in which insights are gained through the practice and for which the artistic artefacts (in this case two pieces of music) form a significant part of the research. After the performances some of the band members were interviewed about their experience of the project and other aspects of playing in the band. Artistic Research is an increasingly used practice-based method in jazz research and there is scope for it to be utilized more widely in popular music.

Author Biography

Tom Sykes, Liverpool Hope University (IASPM branch: UK & Ireland)

Lecturer in Music Performance School of Creative and Performing Arts The Creative Campus Liverpool Hope University