Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Postprint of: Mitchell, AK 2014, 'Nurturing the olive tree: scaffolding jazz pedagogy through spiral curricula from conservatoire to community and classroom', Proceedings of the International Society for Music Education: 31st World Conference on Music Education, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 20-25 July, International Society for Music Education (ISME), Vic., Australia, pp. 223-228. ISBN: 9780987351197.


“Nurturing the olive tree: Scaffolding jazz pedagogy through spiral curricula from conservatoire to community and classroom” traces music education curricula in a regional Australian university through undergraduate studies in jazz and contemporary music, to its application in pre-service teacher training, performance in professional and community music practice, dissemination through secondary music education provision, and its refinement when re-introduced to the conservatoire. The paper aligns with the International Society for Music Education’s (ISME’s) “Listening to the Musical Diversity of the World” Conference aims to “contribute with the education of music teachers, of artists and of researchers”, and responds to ISME’s Jazz Special Interest Group’s objectives to provide information for educators on how to teach jazz, inform ISME members about jazz and provide leadership in jazz. This research discusses a scaffold of jazz theory and musicianship underpinning the contemporary music education program, its extension in arranging and performance, practical skill development through ensemble direction and conducting, application of these skills and knowledge in teacher training; and the associated pedagogy. The research investigates the extension of these skills and knowledge through graduates’ engagement in professional practice and community music, which are integrated into their own pedagogy. Allegory demonstrates the spiral curricula through the growth of an olive tree. The journey of Basia Trzetrzelewska’s “An Olive Tree” specifically illustrates this concept, through its use as an educational resource for aural analysis to develop musicianship, a compositional study for big band arranging, and performance repertoire for a professional big band. Music education pedagogy prepares the soil, the aim of this pedagogy is attaining graduate attributes – the established olive grove. Practice-based research methodology designs the garden. Musical seeds are planted through jazz theory studies and fertilised by musicianship training. The olive tree yields buds (composition and arranging) which flower through musical performance. The discipline required in musical direction and conducting is represented as pruning to promote healthy growth. Pre-service music teacher education resembles training the shoots. A bountiful harvest of professional practice and community music engagement ensues, which is shared as musical practice and pedagogy disseminates throughout the community. Implications for music education are realised through graduates working in teaching vocations who plant new crops. Creating new knowledge and repertoire through practice-based research shakes the tree of the music education discipline. The conclusion recommends embracing these opportunities for lifelong learning, teaching and creative fulfilment.