My current research on music theory pedagogy focuses on two areas: 1) the teaching of musical form and 2) finding ways to connect the music theory classroom to other disciplines and the outside world.
The former is exemplified in a paper that details an approach for teaching musical forms in the undergraduate core using ambiguous pieces. Using inquiry-based learning, this approach advocates for having students explore the beautiful messiness of formally ambiguous pieces immediately after learning the textbook large forms. In doing so, students are able to not only apply form terminology to real music, but are also forced to critically engage with what those labels mean.
The latter tract relies on research that shows that students learn best when they are able to make connections between your classroom and other disciplines or the outside world. For example, in one project, I use Alex Ross's book, The Rest is Noise, to develop a historically contextual post-tonal curriculum that integrates theory, analysis, history, ear-training, and writing into a unified framework. This curriculum forces students to constantly engage with the ways in which theory, history, and music are intertwined in 20th- and 21st-century music.
I also encourage students to learn to distill and disseminate music theory to the broader public. In a forthcoming article, for example, I discuss ways to incorporate small-scale public music theory assignments into your curriculum. I expand on this idea in another paper, where I propose replacing the traditional final analytical paper—typically assigned at the end of the tonal theory sequence—with a project aimed at a general audience. In other words, rather than asking students to write analysis papers, I have begun having students create YouTube videos, podcasts, or newspaper articles aimed at the general public that either analyze a piece of music or teach concepts we have learned in class. This project requires students to synthesize and apply their knowledge similarly to an academic paper, but it asks them to do so in a way that reflects how they will most likely use theory in their personal and professional lives. Because students are allowed to constructively connect theory to their everyday lives, I have found that they approach the project with exceptional enthusiasm and creativity.
Reforming the Undergraduate Core Curriculum Through the Integration oF Public Music Theory (Co-authored with owen belcher) – Engaging Students vol. 7 (Forthcoming)
The Rest is Noise: A Modular, Historically Integrated Approach to Post-Tonal Pedagogy (Co-authored with amy fleming) – in revision
Incorporating Public Music Theory into the Undergraduate Core: Rethinking the Final Analytical Paper – in preparation
either/neither/both: teaching formal ambiguity in the undergraduate core (Co-authored with Joan huguet)
Pedagogy into Practice: Teaching Music Theory in the Twenty-First Century, Santa Barbara, CA (2019) – (Download Poster)
incorporating public music theory into the undergraduate core: rethinking the final analytical paper
Pedagogy into Practice: Teaching Music Theory in the Twenty-First Century, Santa Barbara, CA (2019) – (Download Handout)
The Rest is Noise: A Modular, Historically Integrated Approach to Post-Tonal Pedagogy (Co-authored with amy fleming) (Handout 1) (Handout 2)
Pedagogy into Practice: Teaching Music Theory in the Twenty-First Century, Cleveland, TN (2017)