School of Music
Doctor of Music Education (DME)
College Music Theory, Music Composition, Comprehensive Musicianship
Cather, Daniel Pierce, "College Theory Curriculum: Using the Philosophical Essence of Comprehensive Musicianship to Integrate Composition" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4694.
While the National Standards for Arts Education emphasize the necessity for nurturing creativity in public schools, the current education system is biased toward performance, undervaluing the teaching of creativity through composing at all grade levels. The systemic avoidance of music composition curricular integration starts at the college-level, where future music educators fail to encounter practical composition assignments in their music theory courses. This qualitative research study examined six college theory professors’ perspectives on how well current theory curriculum prepares future students to teach composition and how it might be best implemented. Furthermore, this study assessed shortcomings in developing compositional skill within the available college music theory curriculum. It explored existing literature concerning benefits of creativity in music education. The researcher also demonstrated that the ideals of Comprehensive Musicianship (CM) are a superlative solution to this problem, not as a dogmatic teaching methodology, but by extracting the philosophy that underpins CM. In this light, attention was given to curricular integration by showing how compositional music theory assignments could be meaningfully incorporated in applied and ensemble courses. The efficacy of the proposed theory curriculum was demonstrated with examples from the author’s own community college classroom experience. This study was important because it paves the way for K-12 music educators comfortable and knowledgeable in training students to compose music effectively, thereby demonstrating more comprehensive mastery of music fundamentals. Correspondingly, this dissertation could spawn additional composition-focused curriculum development in applied and ensemble music courses.