AP Music Theory and College: Coordinating the Curriculum

Jennifer Beavers and Stacey Davis

This paper reports on the results of two descriptive surveys that assess the degree of alignment between the AP Music Theory curriculum and introductory college-level music theory and aural skills courses throughout the United States. One survey was sent to current high school AP Music Theory teachers, who specified how much time they spend on each topic within the AP curriculum. College faculty responded to the same list of topics, indicating when each is introduced across their 2-year music theory and aural skills curriculum. Comparing these results revealed competing themes of fluency and exposure. Curricular alignment and possible skill fluency occur when high school teachers spend substantial time on topics that are likely to be introduced in the first two semesters of college. In contrast, many high school teachers briefly expose students to topics that are typically saved for later semesters in college (due to requirements of the AP curriculum or personal pedagogical choice). The implications of both approaches are discussed, with focus placed on the extent to which each approach corresponds with the stated goals and challenges of both high school and college survey respondents.