Skip to main content
Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Prin­cip­al Instru­ment I

Course description

Students take the course as part of the 2nd module. Students can concentrate on one style/genre, or have a wider focus. Emphasis is on developing technical skills, understanding style, and the performance situation. Outreach is emphasised. Work with a project ensemble and preparing for the exam concert, is central to the last two semesters of the course.

The course is based on Principal instrument I (JZHO10 and JZHO11).

Learning objectives

On completion of the course, the student is expected to

  • Use improvised music 7 Jazz as an artistic form of expression in different performance situations.
  • Have acquired a comprehensive repertoire.
  • Demonstrate creativity, innovation and confidence in the genre when playing solo and in ensembles.
  • Show ability to work independently and with purpose, when playing alone and in ensembles.
  • Show ability to work with musicians from other styles and genres.
  • Know and show an ability to reflect upon relevant academic and professional ethical issues.


The course focuses on students development of a personal style/expression. The repertoire is made up of several styles/genres and hybrid genres and can be performed. "Repertoire" means the repertoire the student has worked with; the musical material systematically worked within principal instrument lessons and other classes. The course places heavy demands on students’ ability to judge and create independent musical renditions.

In the course, students will mainly work on:

Principal instrument

  • Developing instrumental/vocal skills in sheet music and music that is not notated.
  • Learning repertoire that is new to the student.
  • Studying recordings and literature. Students will choose material under supervision from their teacher.
  • Techniques for rehearsal and learning new repertoire.
  • History and use of their instrument.

Ensemble playing and project ensemble

  • Students will work with jazz repertoire and other relevant genres and styles, and explore the psychological aspects of groups and musical interaction, as well as the different parts one can play in an ensemble situation.
  • Planning and evaluation projects
  • Improvisation techniques (from chord and melody based improvisation with simple rhythms to freer structures)
  • Composition, arranging, instrumentation and notation. All related to Aural skill tuition.
  • Relevant topics to performance, presentation preparing, organising concerts, touring and recordings, and more.


  • Trying out and evaluating musical components, compositional effects and the possibilities for combinations in real-time. Activities can be improvisation in cooperation with other art forms, use of electronics, various types of concerts and recordings.
  • General principles, rehearsal methods and strategies for working with improvised performance.
  • Psychological aspects of improvised cooperation.

Improvisation and jazz forum

  • A meeting place for jazz students and teachers where they can work on judging and verbally commenting on their own performances and the performances of others, and learn the elements of a good performance

The Academy also arranges optional courses and specialist seminars on topics like musicians' health, performance preparation, how to be a freelancer and commercial awareness.


Organisation and methods vary in this course. The student's independent work with rehearsing and material studies (recordings, literature) related to the rehearsal process is central. Students will participate in several organised concerts and performances.

Principal instrument

  • Individual guidance and classes with principal instrument teacher will take place weekly.

Ensemble playing and project ensemble

  • Third-year: four to five normally teacher-directed projects where jazz teachers carry the responsibility for choosing topics and practical organisation.
  • Fourth-year: two to three projects. Each student will act as a bandleader and create their own ensembles with musicians of their own choice. Teacher resources are available. The tuition hours per student depends on the total number of tuition hours divided by the number of students in the year.


  • Weekly lessons and/or projects/group workshops.

Improvisation and jazz forum

  • Weekly lessons and/or projects/group workshops for all students of jazz and improvised music in the BA and MA programmes.

Students have registered automatically for instruction/supervision and assessment in the course in accordance with the study progress requirements set out in the individual education plan.

For an overview of the anticipated study progression, please see Organisation under the description of the individual study programme.

Course requirements

1. Compulsory participation in

  • Improvisation.
  • Improvisation and jazz forums.
  • Ensemble playing and project ensemble: Each project is documented by an internal or preferably an external concert, and/or another form of documentation (video or audio recording). Each student will submit a short written project report for each project in year 4. Two of the projects in year 4 will be a public concert, at least one of which should be arranged at an external venue. By 1 April in the fourth semester of the course, all projects should be finished and documented. All documentation is handed into the course coordinator by 1 April in the fourth semester of the course.

The course coordinator/instructor will keep a protocol.

32 Submit the principal instrument report

The report must be signed by the principal instrument teacher and must include:

  • Exam programme of 60 minutes duration, including no less than 20 minutes ensemble repertoire.
  • Short presentation of repertoire choices, ensemble composition and the form of the exam concert.
  • All learned repertoire (at least 360 minutes including 1st module repertoire, including no less than 240 minutes ensemble repertoire)
  • Description of what the student has focused on in their coursework.
  • Relevant material the student has worked with, literature, recordings etc.
  • Report/reflection paper describing the two projects the student has lead in year 4 of study.

Deadline: Three copies of the principal instrument report must be submitted to the exam's office by 15 April in the fourth semester of the course.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be approved prior to obtaining a final assessment.

Assessment is based on learning objectives. The final assessment is given as a pass/fail mark and is determined based on an exam concert at the end of the fourth year of study. Students are assessed by at least one external and two internal examiners, one of which is usually the student's principal instrument teacher. The Examination Committee will give the student oral feedback regarding the concert.

Exam concert

The exam programme should show clear musical preferences and reflect the student's musical personality, as far as possible. The student and principal instrument teacher will determine the exam repertoire together. In the case of disagreements, the principal instrument teacher makes the final decision.

Scope: approx. 60 minutes, including 40 minutes of ensemble music.

New assessment

In the case of re-assessment, the same procedures apply.

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Feb 3, 2021