The economic-cultural environment musicians and artists are facing nowadays also challenges the culture of teaching and learning at Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the Arts. The crucial question is how to offer students a multiplicity of choices that serve their individual interests and strengths, but at the same time prepare them for a professional life that requires more than only meeting high artistic standards. To be successful as creative professionals in the 21st century, HMEI graduates not only need a broader set of skills than in the past, they must also be highly flexible and adaptable. Cooperativeness and critical thinking are just as essential as the ability to reflect on the economic, ecological and social context in which one’s own professional activities take place.

Reflect&React brings together two cross-border projects co-financed by the European Union as part of its Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Programme which have both a main focus on investigating what added value engaging in artistic research has for the development of an outstanding artistic profile. RAPP Lab approaches the issue from a more analytical point of view, while REACT – as the project title suggests – places a stronger focus on developing and testing alternative models of learning and teaching at HMEIs. At the end of the day, however, both projects are facing similar challenges and asking similar questions which will certainly be an interesting starting point for discussion with both representatives of the projects and participants of the event.

RAPP Lab stands for ‘Reflection based Artistic Professional Practice‘ bringing together 6 HMEIs from 6 European countries who, over the past two and a half years, have explored in a series of multi-national encounters (so-called Labs) how reflective methodologies of artistic research empower musicians to creatively respond to the economic-cultural environment they are exposed to. This not only resulted in extensive video material documenting the work of the Labs, but also in a Catalogue raisonné offering a good insight into the diversity and multifaceted nature of the approaches pursued.

REACT is committed to overcoming the fixation of conventional music performing studies on technical skills by developing and testing alternative solutions that have their starting point in reflective musical practice and material thinking and are inspired by a common epistemological framework. The project’s main objectives are described as ‘linking artistic research, artistic training, personal development, and career management with each other‘. The models developed as part of the project are grouped under the acronym AR-BL, standing for ‘Artistic Research-Based Learning’.

Reflect&React is not primarily meant to just showcase the results of a successful project work, but to give an opportunity to further discuss the issues that have been raised when working on the projects together with invited guests and participants. The event provides a platform for dialogue and (inter)active involvement. The floor will be given to young, emerging, reflective artists as well as to Music HEI senior management and representatives of other art disciplines.

Key questions to be addressed will be:

  • How to sensibilise students for their relationship to their own artistic practice?
  • How to create learning and teaching atmospheres in which collaboration and responsibility are in focus?
  • How can findings from the projects contribute to re-think and re-design study programmes and curricula?
  • What formats and settings are suited to promote and to support learning & teaching that is informed by artistic research for students at master’s, doctoral and even bachelor’s level?

We would be very happy to welcome you to Cologne in May to reflect and react on these and more issues together with you, with colleagues and international experts in artistic research.