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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 ensemble 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 builds 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 ACTIVATE builds knowledge of 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 skills, and citizen artistry in a sequence of traditional coursework and curated project-based
    learning through its first three levels, called EXPLORE, BUILD, and IMPLEMENT. An optional fourth level, LAUNCH, provides exceptional students with competitive fellowships and residencies in 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


Designed as a first year experience, EXPLORE begins to develop entrepreneurial and citizen artist habits of mind, skills of collaboration and communication, and awareness of context in art-making. The course introduces students to citizen artistry in action through visiting guest artists/presenters and by gaining knowledge about the arts community in Baltimore.


Delivered in a hybrid online/face-to-face format, BUILD provides the framework and initial "laboratory" for artistic and career skill development that prepares students for community performance contexts. It introduces fundamental principles of programming, partnership and producing, and builds the knowledge and critical skills needed for active participation in community performances or other community engagement activities.


A project-based course undertaken in small cohorts, IMPLEMENT empowers students to practice essential skills of programming, audience development, marketing, collaboration, and citizen artistry through a mentored experience within the community.


Elective leadership and professional development opportunities for students to delve into stipended, longer-term, deeper projects to advance their skills in community engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership as performing artists.