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As musicians teaching in a conservatory we are mindful of responsibility to our students, who are practicing musicians. It is our hope for them to develop a set of tools that will complement and enhance their inherent musicality: tools of the mind, ear, voice, eye, and hand. Much of our effort is directed toward practical training, the development of the “hearing eye,” and of a usable set of aural and conceptual abilities. Our attempt is to integrate concepts and practical skills, and to work toward specific applications: hearing, performing, writing, analyzing. Implicit in our approach is that hearing, thinking, feeling, performing and composing are interdependent aspects of musicianship and should reinforce each other.

This implies both a broad and integrative view of the purpose of music theory instruction at Peabody. We do not rigidly separate harmony from counterpoint from form, as we believe that these are interrelated aspects of one thing: the musical experience. In the attempt to help students to “see it steadily and see it whole,” a great variety of musical activities may be employed in any given classroom: performing, listening, analyzing, composing. We place particular emphasis on writing music, believing that in composing one faces the most vivid and essential musical questions. We all try, in our individual ways, to integrate hearing with analysis, and analysis with performing. In many classes, one may observe a good deal of performing, both of the music under discussion and of student works. In any case, all study starts from and focuses on real music rather than on theories about music; in hearing, writing, and analyzing, musicality is our first concern.

The music theory faculty are all practicing and practical musicians: performers, conductors, composers, as well as theorists of music. We prefer the word “practice” to “theory” and we like to think that what we teach is simply musical practice: what music is and how it works.

We hope our students will emerge from our program with:

  • a broad and literate musicianship
  • accurate and sensitive analytical hearing
  • sound stylistic and historical awareness
  • practical listening, writing and analytical skills, applicable to performance, composition and scholarship
  • the ability to “think musically.”