Teaching and Learning Popular Music in Higher Education Through Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Practice What You Preach


  • Liz Przybylski Northwestern University
  • Nasim Niknafs University of Toronto




Improvisatory Integrative Learning, popular music teaching and learning, higher education, informal music learning, Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Do-It-With-Others (DIWO)


This article provides a contextualized explanation of an emerging strategy for popular music teaching and learning in higher education that the authors term Improvisatory Integrative Learning. This strategy coalesces around four themes from a Do-It-Yourself and Do-It-With-Others ethos: autonomy, play, peer learning, and peer teaching. To explicate the possibilities and pitfalls of teaching popular music in this way, the authors analyze the approaches taken in a co-taught university course integrating two perspectives: music education and ethnomusicology. The interdisciplinary collaboration became an investigative space for informal music learning approaches in a formal context, in which students improvised with creative composition. We explore not only how processes that are part and parcel of popular music learning can help improve productivity in a popular music classroom, but also the ways that improvisatory integrative learning can serve a diverse university student population by expanding interdisciplinary approaches to multiple kinds of subject matter.

Author Biography

Liz Przybylski, Northwestern University

Ethnomusicology PhD Candidate Bienen School of Music


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Popular Music Education: Articles