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Sound, Meaning, Education: CONVERSATIONS & improvisation

International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) / University of Guelph, October 20-22, 2023

Proposal Deadline Extended to: June 1, 2023


SME | CFP (Call for Proposals)


Sound, Meaning Education (SME) invites researchers, artists, and/or teachers to submit proposals for an in-person conference to be held at the University of Guelph, October 20-22, 2023. The conference will gather all manner of curricular innovators to share research/scholarship, pedagogical strategies, narratives/stories, performances, and imaginings for the purpose of building infrastructures that support sound and meaning explorations within teaching and learning contexts. 


As an organization, SME responds to and is part of: 1) the sensory turn in the academy, 2) recent technological and experiential shifts in how music and sound are created/heard/disseminated, and 3) the re-orienting of human existences toward ecological resonance (SME Guiding Statement). The 2023 conference continues in these veins via a partnership with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at the University of Guelph and will co-convene with the fourth annual Improvisation Festival (IF). As such, the conference will emphasize improvisations, as related to sound theory/research and pedagogical practice, along with CONVERSATIONS, as related to sound theory/research and pedagogical practice. To that end, three session types comprise the conference schedule: research talks (15 min + 15 min Q&A), interactive workshops (60 min), and improvisational performances (60 min). Keynotes and guest artists are forthcoming.


SME is, by nature, interdisciplinary. As such, we encourage proposals/projects of all methodologies; please be specific in that regard. Proposal topics include, but are not limited to:


  • Pedagogical encounters in/with sound and improvisation thereof. (PK-16, community-based programs, etc.)

  • Creative and critical intersections between sound, music, improvisation and education.

  • Ecological/relational impacts of human engagements with sound/music.

  • Sensuous scholarship and phenomenological studies centered around sound, improvisation, and pedagogy.

  • Embodied and cognitive processes with sound/music.

  • Sound/music narratives and narrative inquiries in music/sound learning contexts.

  • Multi-sensorial engagements with sound/music as related to inclusivity and disability studies, and/or other areas of inquiry.

  • Social and political structures that inform and constitute sound/music experience and sound/music pedagogies.

  • Philosophy of sound and music as related to technology, identity, the environment, and/or education.


Proposals should include the following:

  • Proposal type: Research Talk, Interactive Workshop, or Improvisational Performance

  • 500-word summary (PDF)

  • 100-word bio (PDF)

  • Optionally, one additional media file may be submitted for workshop and performance proposals

  • Technical requirements, if any


Submit to jashen edwards and Rebecca Rinsema at by May 15, 2023.


Proposals will be reviewed according to: 

1. Objectives or purposes as they relate to the conference theme(s)

2. Perspective(s) and/or theoretical framework

3. Methods, techniques, and/or modes of inquiry 

4. Data sources, evidence, objects, and/or materials 

5. Results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view 

6. Scientific, scholarly, artistic, and/or pedagogical significance of the project

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Presenter Info

We look forward to welcoming you to Guelph in October!

Program: Click here

Registration: Click here to confirm your in-person participation and provide information for us to serve you best during the conference.

Accommodations: Guelph has a partnership with the Delta Hotel, within walking distance to the conference. There is a limited number of rooms available for our participants at a discounted rate (175 CAD +). When booking, provide the code: XIJ. Even with the discount, the Delta is expensive, so we encourage participants to check airbnb and other apps for more affordable options. 

Location of Conference: MacKinnon Building, University of Guelph

As always, get in contact with jashen or Rebecca with any questions at all!

SME 23 is supported by: 

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC)
The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) 
College of Arts, University of Guelph 
Kitt School of Music, Northern Arizona University

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INTRO & Session 1: The Interdisciplinarity of Sound Studies:
Theoretical Soundings

Rebecca Rinsema, NAU, Introduction to Conference

Jonathan Sterne, McGill
Nina Eidsheim, UCLA
Robin James, UNC Charlotte
Ola Stockfelt, University of Gothenburg
Kwame Harrison,Virginia Tech, Conversation Guide


Session 2: Theory into Practice in General Education Contexts

Nicole Furlonge, Teachers College, Columbia

Walter Gershon, Rowan University

Kara Attrep, NAU, Conversation Guide

Rob Wallace,  NAU, Conversation Guide 

Session 3: Theoretical Soundings: Embodied Cognition, Ecological Theory, Music Education

Pamela Burnard, Cambridge University

David Elliott, NYU

Rebecca Rinsema, NAU, Conversation Guide

Session 4: The Sounds of Incarceration

Mark Katz, UNC Chapel Hill, Conversation Guide

Alim Braxton, Hip Hop Artist

Session 5: Indigenous Soundings: Environmental and Cultural Landscapes

Jessica Bissett Perea, UC Davis

Trevor Reed, ASU

John-Carlos Perea, San Francisco State University

Chad Hamill, NAU, Conversation Guide

Session 6: Sounding New Instruments and Participatory Methods

John Granzow, University of Michigan

James Humberstone, Sydney Conservatory

Matthew Thibeault, The Education University of Hong Kong

Patricia Green, Western University

Jashen Edwards, Western University, Conversation Guide 

Session 7: Sounding All Abilities

James Leve, NAU 

Performance: Dreams Come True Music Studio, London, ON 

Caroline Blumer, Western University

Allison O’Connor, Dreams Come True Music Studio

2022 Conference Description

US music educators, across all levels, have traditionally concerned themselves with teaching musicality and musical interpretation as it is mediated by western music notation. Increasingly, digital technologies allow composers, producers, and DJ’s, among other musicians, to demonstrate a kind of musicality without notation as an intermediary; musical sounds can be created and manipulated directly without reference to western notation or traditional music theory. Such practices connect to the ways that humans overwhelmingly interact with music throughout the world, in vernacular and non-Western contexts where notation plays a less prominent role. A natural extension of these phenomena is that music listeners likely also procure musicalities in their abilities to interpret and understand musical sounds directly. Embodied cognitive theory (psychology) and ecological theory (philosophy) have potential for helping us understand such phenomena--but, so far, these alternative musicalities have been under-explored and under-developed within institutional music education and general education contexts.


At the same time, in the last several years, a number of scholars, in a variety of disciplines outside of music and music education (performance studies, media studies, cultural studies, film studies, communications, etc.), have begun to chart this territory. As part of a ‘sensory turn’  across the academy (see the work of David Howes), these sound studies and auditory culture scholars have utilized and developed new theoretical frameworks, beyond traditional musicological/aesthetic frameworks, to explore human experiences with sounds and their meanings, musical sounds included. The work of Jonathan Sterne, Les Black, Michael Bull, and Anahid Kassabian has been especially foundational to this area of inquiry. Such scholars seek to characterize and theorize the concept of sound and sound experiences, viewing them as foundational and integral to concepts of music and musical experiences. 


This interdisciplinary, virtual conference explores how such musicalities and embodied knowledges of sound might bear on education and pedagogy on any level and within any context. Scholars across the disciplines will discuss how sound studies has impacted their work and field, and begin connecting their work to education. The conference will be open to the public.