Global Perspective on Music Theory Pedagogy - Thinking in Music

Author(s): 
Peter Schubert
Volume: 
25
Year: 
2011
Material: 
Abstract: 

What does it mean to think in music? To me it means lunchtime conversations about resolutions of chords, where we wave our fingers in the air, spacing them to indicate intervals; sometimes it means improvising a consequent phrase to an antecedent, or improvising a florid line to a cantus firmus; sometimes it's recognizing a motivic connection to an event that occurred hundreds of measures earlier. These are the types of things we would like our students to be able to do: to engage actively with the ideas in music and to look beneath its surface. However, I found recently that I was starting with ideas that were too deep and abstract, that I was working too much on music as it appears to the mind and not enough on more tangible, elementary craft. So lately I have changed the way I teach, and since mine is a sort of road-to-Damascus story, I have organized it around two conversations with younger colleagues that shook up my thoughts about teaching. Writing this article has been cathartic as I reconsider my own musical education - it's a mixture of polemic and reminiscence, part manifesto, part memoir.