So what? Can we learn anything about university teaching from jazz?


learning outcomes
professional development

How to Cite

Hall, C. 2023. So what? Can we learn anything about university teaching from jazz? . Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 2, 3 (Jul. 2023). DOI:


This paper examines whether teachers in universities can learn from the practices and structures of jazz music as they try to prepare students for an uncertain future. It outlines the fundamental characteristics of jazz and how these have been applied by jazz musicians. The paper focuses on four of the building blocks of jazz: improvisation, mistakes, collaboration and leadership, and examines how these translate to university teaching. It concludes that effective learning, like the best jazz, is collaborative and occurs where the freedom to improvise and make mistakes is integral. Additionally, as with the best jazz bands, there must be some structure where the teacher, although leading, is fully involved in the collaborative act of discovery with the learners. The author argues that the lessons learned from jazz should be incorporated in professional development programmes for new university teachers.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Chris Hall