Excellence and Innovation in 21st Century Training for Performing Artists

The Peabody Conservatory’s Breakthrough Curriculum ensures that your education will meet not only the high artistic standards you expect, but also the unique and changing needs of today’s cultural environment.

As a student at Peabody, you will learn:

  • Excellence in your craft, positioning you to compete for high-level opportunities as a soloist, orchestra member, chamber musician, ensemble dancer, conductor, composer, choreographer, educator, recording engineer, critic or scholar.
  • Performance flexibility, and the ability to apply appropriate stylistic attributes across a wide range of performing contexts, musical styles, and ensemble configurations found in the current diversity of professional models.
  • Leadership as a citizen artist, building creative collaborations with diverse stakeholders both within and beyond the performing arts, actively cultivating existing and new audiences, responding to the needs of your community, and bringing value to the vitality and economy of your landscape. An expanding network of partners supports community-based learning opportunities at all curricular levels.
  • Communication, marketing, and practical skills with which you can propel your career in any direction immediately upon graduation.

The Breakthrough Curriculum addresses three topics, with core coursework in each area:

  • Performance
    Through wide-ranging coursework and performance experiences, the Breakthrough Curriculum ensures training across a range of styles critical for developing artistic flexibility. Conservatory dancers study ballet and modern dance, jazz and West African dance, and have opportunities to collaborate with musicians across genres. For instrumentalists, a re-imagined Large Ensemble Program is designed to acquaint Peabody students with the rich and varied literature of many musical genres. Students rotate through different ensembles, which each serve a distinct purpose and explore different types of repertoire in varying sizes, configurations, and historical periods. A course in improvisation for classical musicians will build skills in tonal improvisation, listening and awareness, the understanding of the links between harmony and melody, the connections between music theory and improvisational practice, and attitudes of personal investment in the music-making process.
  • Career Development
    A foundational course in business and career development entitled Building a Brand and Portfolio examines traditional and new markets, diverse career paths, and professional communication skills. Students construct a digital portfolio which is then refined over the course of their degree, and study topics including fundamental career skills, professional materials, personal finance, networking, promotional activities, and more.
  • Citizen Artistry
    The Breakthrough Curriculum scaffolds skills in entrepreneurial thinking, leadership, project development, and citizen artistry in a sequence of traditional coursework and curated project-based learning. The courses Exploring Arts Careers and Pitching Your Creative Idea prepare students to compete for extended and supported fellowships and residencies in real-world community contexts.

The more I learn about Peabody's pioneering Breakthrough Curriculum, the more excited I get about its significance for lucky Peabody students and for the field of conservatory learning worldwide.”

Eric Booth

The Music Teaching Artist's Bible ‘09

Exploring Arts Careers

Exploring Arts Careers is a required one-semester course for all first-year undergraduates. The class introduces strategies that enhance artistic development, the attributes of professionalism, the breadth of 21st-century careers in the creative and performing arts, basic plans for individual career development, and the sense of place in artistic creation.

Building a Brand and Portfolio

Students in this career development course learn the business skills they will need to understand and navigate an ever-evolving professional landscape, and develop promotional materials to differentiate themselves and launch artistic careers.

Pitching Your Creative Idea

Pitching Your Creative Idea, the final course in the Breakthrough Curriculum sequence, is a required two-credit course for all third-year undergraduate and first-year master's students. In this project-based course, students develop and practice essential skills for the 21st century performing artist through designing an artistic project for a setting external to Peabody. They learn skills in audience research, programming, collaboration, and professionalism, determining both an artistic idea they wish to pursue and how it might fit with an identified audience. A written grant application and juried proposal serve both as the capstone for this class and an optional entry in a real competition for project funding.

Residency and Fellowship Opportunities

Students who wish to further advance their learning in community engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership as performing artists, can apply for stipended, longer-term, deeper projects in community settings. These competitive fellowships, residencies and internships are supported by the LAUNCHPad Office.