Marc van Roon is a Dutch jazz pianist who combines music performance with his work as a creative facilitator for groups and organizations in change and learning processes. This work, as a creative workshopleader in companies, has stimulated him to start doing doctoral research in this field.
The creative art of music can be used in bringing about meaningful transformations in organisations. The domain of music however has its own rules and laws of operation, different from those valid in the domain of organisational development. The goal of his research is to construct a framework for the conceptual approach and an evidence based body of knowledge of experiential activities, that will assist musicians and management consultants in effectively transferring the knowledge, values and experiences from the source domain of music to the target domain of the organisation. The aim is to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of this transference and thus the overall transformation in the organisation.
Music, Complexity and Lifelong Learning: Tasting the Sweetness
Keywords: organisational change, societal change, higher music education, organisational learning, collaborative learning, metaphor, improvisation, jazz, tacit dimension, reflective practitioner, reflexive practice, communities of practice.
This research is embedded in the context of institutions in educational and organisational domains in search for ways to cope with rapid societal change and increasing demands for flexibility and adaptability due to cultural and social changes, globalisation, demographic change and aging, and global economic restructuring.
The research is grounded in the work Marc has been doing as a musician, improvising pianist, composer, band leader, music teacher and facilitator of collaborative workshops in two different, but interrelated, domains:
1. Interactive programmes
The interactive learning and performance programmes that he designed and ran in the past eighteen years (alongside his practice as performing jazz artist) together with colleagues for profit and non-profit organizations world-wide. The core of this work was the use of group improvisation to illustrate various organisational themes, e.g., complexity, self-organisation, servant and rotating leadership, diversity.
2. New curricula
His involvement in the design of new curricula for higher music education institutes through his participation in the Research Group ‘Lifelong Learning in Music & the Arts’ in connection with the Prince Claus Music Conservatoire in Groningen where he teaches in the jazz faculty, and the Master programme 'New Audiences and Innovative Practice' (NAIP). The research group contributes to the development of the professional practice of musicians and artists by conducting practice-based research into the way in which professional musicians and artists can make meaningful contributions to our rapidly changing society and how art can be a connecting factor in society. In view of this mission the research group does research and creates projects, together with partners from the (international) professional practice.
Both practices are embedded in a larger scientific and philosophical debate on the nature of knowledge and learning. Relevant theories include e.g. the lifelong learning concept, the concept of a tacit dimension (Polanyi 1966) and the distinction of tacit and explicit knowledge (Nonaka, 1994), theories of organizational learning by Argyis and Schön (1974, 1978) including reflective practice (Schön 1987) and transformative learning (Mezirow 2009, Kegan 2009). Furthermore, the use of musical metaphor in organizational development is relevant for this research, especially the use of conducting classical music (Drucker 1989) and jazz music (Weick 1992), (Barrett 1998), (Sawyer 1999), (Berliner 1994).
The research objective is to reflect through the lens of complexity theory and lifelong learning theory, and through the lens of qualitative research, on the practice of both colleagues and myself as musicians in the role of adult educators who find themselves working with groups of non-musicians in the economy (organisational change, organisational development) or civil society (community education), and identify the specific qualifications, patterns and effective processes in order to generate a framework for conceptual thinking and an empirically grounded body of knowledge.
Key Research Question 1:
What are the identifiable key attributes and specific qualifications at play in the existing practice of professional musicians who find themselves in the role of adult educators working in the economy (organisational change, organisational development) or civil society (community education) creating adaptive learning programmes and learning environments in which people function effectively in a continuously changing professional practice, making the fast changing work environment and workplaces more hospitable?
Subsidiary Research Question 1a:
How can meaning be caught instead of taught? How can the process of critical reflection, reflection-in- action (reflexive practice) and reflection-on-action, create alternative possibilities in the process of carrying over the tacit comprehension, tacit meaning and tacit value in transformative learning processes from the (experiential collaborative) learning context to the practical organisational workplace and work- situation?
Subsidiary Research Question 1b:
What is the relevance of this practice for the organisational development domain?
Key Research Question 2:
What knowledge, skills and values are needed by musicians who find themselves in the role of adult educators working in the economy (organisational change, organisational development) or civil society (community education) utilizing (jazz) music and improvised collaborative music session (e.g. jam sessions) to illustrate organisational development themes such as the processing of complexity and autonomous order formation in intelligent networks, servant leadership, and the concepts of wholeness and interconnectedness.
Subsidiary Research Question 2:
How can this body of knowledge be translated into new curriculum for higher music education institutes?