Inclusion and agency in the undergraduate theory core

Crystal Peebles


As the field continues to imagine ways to increase representation in the music theory curriculum, this article offers one possible solution: a modular curriculum based on musical and critical thinking skills rather than a particular repertoire. In this design, students share a common grounding in music theory rooted in common practice, which cultivates notational fluency, aural awareness, and writing skills, before choosing upper-division music theory electives. The electives have the same skill-based learning objectives, which are general enough to be applied to various repertoires. A skill-centered music theory curriculum, as opposed to one that is repertoire-centered, grants students agency to practice analytical and interpretive skills in repertoires of their choosing, while creating a common academic experience for all music majors. This modular approach to the music theory core opens the curriculum to greater musical representation, without relying on tokenistic nods to diverse repertoires, and empowers students to make decisions about their education.


curriculum design; inclusion; student agency; learning outcomes

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ISSN: 2689‐2871