DrPatrick Olsen


Dr Patrick Olsen

Lecturer, Music
Dr Patrick Olsen
  • AFHEA Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK
  • PhD (Music Education), University of Cambridge, UK
  • MA Music Performance, The Irish World Academy, Ireland
  • BSc Psychology, Open University, UK
  • BM Contemporary Writing & Production, Berklee College of Music, US

Patrick Olsen's approaches to researching teaching and learning were shaped by working as a professional music performer and as a teacher in especially diverse contexts. He has been fortunate to work internationally based in the US, Ireland, UK and Singapore with many music tours and teaching opportunities in between.

The research questions that he investigates have been stimulated by the developments of (a) education being increasingly viewed as a marketable product, (b) the roles of traditional teaching and learning contexts within the emerging marketisation and standardisation of education. With education being increasingly driven by political/commercial decision making, important questions arise regarding the changing roles of teachers, students and parents within the unfolding pedagogical landscape.

To address his research questions, Patrick favours interdisciplinary approaches to education (e.g. sociology, colonialism, performance, curriculum theory). His research output has primarily focused on the perceptions and practices within teaching and learning through analyses of verbal, musical and textual discourse.

Professional Practice/ Research Output

Research Publications

  • Editor of Blue Light, the quarterly Journal of the Duke Ellington Society UK (2019–2021).


  • Relevance, Responsibilities and Potentials of a Jazz Music Society, Documenting Jazz Conference, Birmingham, UK (2020).
  • Improvisation Cultures within Formal UK Music Lessons, Homerton College Research Series, Cambridge, UK (2019).
  • Assessing Improvisation in Graded Music Examinations: Conflicting Practices and Perceptions. Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge (2019).
  • Learning to experience Travel as a Part-Time Local, Rather than as a Tourist. Paper delivered at Cambridge Sustainable Tourism Conference, UK (2019)
  • Assessing Improvisation in the Curricula of Formal Graded Music Examinations, British Education Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference, Northumbria University, UK (2018).
  • Recognising Specific Challenges in UK Pedagogical Culture for Performing Duke Ellington’s Big Band Repertoire, Annual Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK (2018). 
  • Assessing ‘improvisation’ inside and out of formal graded music examinations, British Forum for Ethnomusicology & Royal Music Association Conference, University of Huddersfield, UK (2018).
  • Tracing Jazz in British Secondary Music Curricula, Kaleidoscope Conference, University of Cambridge, UK (2017).
  • Looking for Love & Lift: a phenomenological investigation of performers in a touring Irish dance show, Colloquium at the Centre for Music Science & Faculty of Education, Cambridge, UK (2016). 
  • Using Spectrography to Investigate Relationships between Regional Accents & Tone Production, Arts Kaleidoscope, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK (2015).
  • Songs about Alice: Unearthing 150 Years of Whimsy, Alice through the Ages: The 150th Anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Faculty of Education, Cambridge, UK (2015).
  • Research Interest
    • Jazz and popular music studies.
    • Pedagogical cultures in music.
    • Music improvisation.
    • Sociocultural and phenomenological-framed research.
    • Traditional Irish music and Celtic folk styles.