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Edward W. Sarath

Professor of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation
Office: 231 Stearns

Ed Sarath divides his time between performing, composing, recording, designing innovative courses and curricula, writing about creativity and its underlying dimensions in consciousness, and spearheading leadership initiatives that aim to bring this expanded vision to musical study and education at large.

Sarath is professor of music in the Department in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation, of which he was the founding faculty member and chair (1987-2007), at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. He is also director of U-M’s Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies, an interdisciplinary network of colleagues interested in the inner workings of creativity and its foundations in consciousness. He founded and serves as president of the International Society for Improvised Music (, an organization devoted to promoting awareness of the importance of improvisational studies in musical training and improvised music in today’s diverse world. Within the auspices of ISIM and also the National Center for Institutional Diversity, where he is a Fellow, he has spear-headed the Diversity in Musical Academe initiative—the purpose of which is to expand the horizons of musical study in response to the multi-stylistic and multi-ethnic nature of today’s musical world. He is co-founder of the Consortium for Consciousness Studies in Higher Education, whose purpose is to promote awareness and collaboration in the emergent academic area of consciousness studies.

Sarath has published his theoretical and pedagogical ideas widely. His book Music Theory Through Improvisation: A New Approach to Musicianship Training (Routledge 2010) presents an innovative framework for multi-stylistic musical study. His forthcoming book, Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness: Jazz as an Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society (State University of New York/Albany) presents the first appropriation of an emergent, consciousness-based worldview called Integral Theory to music. He is co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays titled Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry (SUNY/Albany) which also includes a chapter he authored. Additional writings appear in the Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Innovative Higher EducationJournal of Music Theory, Oxford Handbook for Research on Music Education, International Journal for Music Education, Music Educators Journal, Jazz Research Papers, Jazz Educators Journal, Jazz Changes, Harvard Law School’s Negotiation journal, Columbia Teachers College’s Educational Record, UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute’s online journal, Newsday, and Ultimate Reality and Meaning journal.    

Sarath has performed and recorded with top names in the field and, as flugelhornist and composer, has released several CDs, the most recent of which is New Beginnings featuring the London Jazz Orchestra performing his large-ensemble compositions. Prior recordings include Timescape, Last Day in May, and Voice of the Wind. They feature a host of internationally renowned artists as side-personnel including Karl Berger, Joanne Brackeen, Mick Goodrich, David Liebman, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee, Harvey Swartz, and Marvin Smitty Smith.

Sarath has presented master classes in improvisation at music schools and conservatories around the world including the Eastman School of Music, The New School, Northwestern University, Paris Conservatory, Tatui (Brazil) Conservatory, UNICAMP (Brazil), Manaus Conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and University of Tours (France).  He has given talks to cross-disciplinary audiences on the topic of creativity and consciousness at Amherst College, Bryn Mawr College, California Institute of Integral Studies, Capital University, Elon University, Hillsdale College, Harvard Business School, Northwestern University, the University of Iowa Business School, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and at interdisciplinary conferences of the Transpersonal Psychology Association, Program on Negotiation, Society for Scientific Exploration, and Scientific and Medical Network.        

Ed Sarath is a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (three-time NEA fellow, twice in performance, once in composition), the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, and the National Center for Institutional Diversity.


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