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Sven Bjerstedt

Sven Bjerstedt

Associate professor

Sven Bjerstedt

Lessons from jazz improvisation to qualitative inquiry and reflective practice


  • Sven Bjerstedt


  • Karin Hannes
  • Ann Heylighen
  • Bernadette Dierckx de Casterlé
  • Frederik Truyen
  • Anja Declercq

Summary, in English

In this presentation I will focus on lessons from the arts to qualitative inquiry, especially, what reflection on jazz improvisation may bring to qualitative inquiry. First, I will make the general suggestion that qualitative investigations, seen as reflective practices, have much in common with – and probably much to learn from – jazz improvisational practices. The complex processes of hermeneutic understanding include laying bare the researcher’s pre-understanding as well as, in the interpretation of statements, the dynamics between their holistic coherence and the agent’s intentions. Through interview excerpts, the important phenomenon of breaks in the conversational flow will be shown to have great signficance to qualitative inquiry as a reflective practice, pointing to improvisational practices as relevant providers of solutions to the problematic dynamics of understanding, pre- understanding, self-understanding and misunderstanding. Second, I will discuss a number of ’lessons’ that reflection on jazz improvisation may bring to qualitative research. One lesson concerns the dynamics of different kinds of authenticity. ust as jazz improvisation can be authentic in more than one way, so can research. A second lesson concerns the dynamics of observation and interpretation. Just as jazz improvisation can be viewed both as a response to external impulses and as a manifestation of internal gestures, so can research. A third lesson concerns identity. Just as the notion of changing narrative identity can be seen as key to jazz improvisation, so may an expanded notion of prolonged engagement emerge as highly relevant to qualitative research processes.


  • Teachers (Malmö Theatre Academy)
  • Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts

Publishing year







European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Proceedings 2017: QUALITY AND REFLEXIVITY IN QUALITATIVE INQUIRY

Document type

Conference paper


KU Leuven NQRL


  • Music
  • Pedagogy


  • jazz improvisation
  • qualitative inquiry
  • reflective practice




  • ISBN: 9789067841979