A Revised Taxonomy for Music Learning

Deborah Rifkin & Philip Stoecker

Among college music teachers, it is commonly lamented that ear-training skills develop more slowly than other kinds of musical knowledge, such as written theory skills. Informally, the "ear" develops more slowly than the "mind." Intrigued by this phenomenon, which suggests that the learning process for aural skills could be different compared to other types of knowledge, we have evaluated our students and our own pedagogy for years with the intent of developing a learning taxonomy for aural development. That is, we sought adaptations that catered specifically to music learning by accommodating the time-sensitive nature of performed arts, rather than the more spatial emphasis that we believe persists with most prior learning theories. This article has two goals: the first goal is to present our revised taxonomy of learning for music classes; the second goal is to demonstrate how our taxonomy can be used to design classroom activities for both tonal and atonal aural skills courses.