Cognitive Processes Underlying Improvisation
Martin Norgaard is Associate Professor of Music Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta where he is collaborating with faculty in neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, occupational therapy, and physics to investigate the cognitive processes underlying improvisation and related therapeutic applications. He received the Dean’s Early Career Award in recognition of “outstanding work” as a faculty member of Georgia State University and is associate faculty of the Neuroscience Institute. In two recent studies involving electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Dr. Norgaard and his colleagues explored the brain networks underpinning musical improvisation. In another study, he showed that middle school children who receive training in musical improvisation score higher on measures of executive function compared to students who receive traditional music training. His research appears in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Brain Connectivity, The International Journal of Music Education, Music Educators Journal, The String Research Journal and the interdisciplinary journal Music Perception.
Dr. Norgaard is the author of ten jazz string method books for Mel Bay Publications including Jazz Fiddle Wizard and Jazz Fiddle/Viola/Cello Wizard Junior and the composer of several string orchestra pieces for The FJH Music Company and Alfred Music Publishing. Dr. Norgaard currently serves on the editorial committee for the Journal of Research in Music Education. Previously, he served on the Music Educators Journal advisory board and on the Emerging Ensembles Subcommittee writing the next generation National Standards in the Arts under the auspices of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. Dr. Norgaard is a frequent clinician at state, national, and international conventions such as The ISME World Conference on Music Education, The Midwest Clinic, NAfME, ASTA, GMEA, and TMEA among others.
Born and raised in Denmark, Norgaard moved to the United States to study jazz performance at William Paterson University, and Queens College in New York, where his instructors included Rufus Reid, Hal Galper, Jimmy Heath and others. He then moved to Nashville where taught jazz and commercial strings at Belmont University and Vanderbilt University. There he directed the Belmont Jazz String Quartet and Jazz String Septet, which were featured at the International Association for Jazz Education 2001 conference, MENC 2002 and ASTA 2003. Prior to his appointment at Georgia State University, Dr. Norgaard received a PhD in music and human learning from The University of Texas at Austin where he studied with Robert Duke and Laurie Scott.
Norgaard, M., McCranie, H., & Stambaugh, L. (2019). The effect of jazz improvisation instruction on measures of executive function in middle school band students. Journal of Research in Music Education. 67(3), 339-354.
Dhakal, K., Norgaard, M., Adhikari, B. M., Yun, K. S., & Dhamala, M. (2019). Higher Node Activity with Less Functional Connectivity during Musical Improvisation. Brain Connectivity. 9(3), 296-309,
Norgaard, M. (2017). Descriptions of improvisational thinking by developing jazz improvisers. International Journal of Music Education. 35(2), 259-271. Citation count 8 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Norgaard, M. & Taylor, C. F. (2016). Eclectic styles and improvisation in school orchestra performances. String Research Journal. 7, 45-61. Citation count 2 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Adhikari, B., Norgaard, M., Quinn, K., Ampudia, J., & Dhamala, M. (2016). The brain network underpinning novel melody creation. Brain Connectivity. 6(10), 772-785. Citation count 10 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Norgaard, M., Emerson, S. N., Dawn, K., & Fidlon, J. (2016). Creating under Pressure: Effects of divided attention on the improvised output of skilled jazz musicians. Music Perception. 33(5), 561-570. Citation count 10 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Norgaard, M. (2014). How jazz musicians improvise: The central role of auditory and motor patterns. Music Perception. 31(3), 271-287. Citation count 61 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Norgaard, M., Spencer, J., & Montiel, M. (2013). Testing cognitive theories by creating a pattern-based probabilistic algorithm for melody and rhythm in jazz improvisation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain. 23(4), 243-254. Citation count 19 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)
Norgaard, M. (2011). Descriptions of improvisational thinking by artist-level jazz musicians. Journal of Research in Music Education. 59(2), 109-127. Citation count 136 (Google Scholar, 10/09/19)