Welcome to the Innovative Conservatoire

ICON Seminar 9

Kallio-Kuninkala, Helsinki


Theme of the 9th Seminar: Practice-based research: choreographing exploration, reflection, creative experiment and research

Last updated August 8, 2016

Practice-based research: choreographing exploration, reflection, creative experiment and research

As artists we explore, experiment and reflect, all the time. It is a regular part of our practice and experience.  We do not tend, though, to think of this in terms of “research”. In fact the word “research” for many practitioners is rather alien, something a long way from our experience or indeed interest.  A fundamental aim of this ICON seminar is to demystify “research” in the context of a conservatoire, and to investigate ways in which we can take ownership of and do research as an invaluable part of our own and our students’ artistic and educational practice.

Who is the seminar for? Conservatoire teachers who want to explore principles and processes of practice-based reflection and research, or who have a particular topic, fascination or line of enquiry they would like to pursue. We suggest that it will work well for teachers to come as duos, sharing an area of interest, or as duos where, for example, one instrumental practitioner and one teacher with responsibility for developing practice-based research in the curriculum can work together.

Reflective Practice – In this seminar we will explore the kinds of research that we may do as practitioners, through practice, rather than focusing on research that is “about” artistic practice.  We will begin with fundamental principles of reflection and practical ways to deepen this collectively and individually as a part of ongoing development.

Research – We will then also explore how these principles and practices may be stretched, refined and even challenged to create more systematic research. This will involve engaging with a continuum between for example pursuing a particular artistic/educational fascination over a period of time, formally posing research questions and finding ways to address them, making new work and reflecting on it, and finding ways to share our discoveries and seek responses to them.

An Individual Voice – For each of us research is a personal journey. Nothing is written in stone. Both reflection and research vary a lot from person to person, and perhaps also discipline to discipline. A composer develops a particular practice that will be different from a singer’s, an actor’s, a pianist’s, a visual artist’s, a writer’s…. We may research using a sketchbook or rehearsal journal. We may seek to observe other people’s practice or to ask them about it. We may investigate historical sources….. It depends both on what we are researching and on the kinds of process that attract us.

Positioning Professional Practice – Practice-based research has a purpose of sharpening and deepening our artistic and educational practice. It helps us to articulate fundamental values in what we do and what this brings to a larger community. Individual voices taken collectively can then also contribute to position our professions in rapidly changing contemporary contexts. We become more able to amplify our voices within existing and new contexts of professional practice, and to open up connections between music and other disciplines in art and wider society.


Event Resources

Resources associated with the seminars including programmes and reading materials are displayed here. ICON members can access private resources by logging in at the top of the page.

Last updated August 8, 2016


Each participant is invited to bring an inspiration with them to the seminars. This ranges from a quote from a book or a piece of poetry to a score or an image, relating to the seminar theme.

Last updated August 8, 2016


Each institution sends between 2—4 participants to each seminar. ICON members associated with this seminar are shown here. Click on a member’s photo to be taken to their profile page.

Last updated August 8, 2016