In 2000, Richard Nelson conducted a survey of undergraduate music theory curricula at the request of the College Music Society (CMS). His survey included questions on faculty loads and leaves, and issues of undergraduate theory curricula (e.g., years required, class sizes, textbooks, solmization systems, topics covered, placement exams, and fundamentals and accelerated courses). A total of 248 responses were collected and reported in the College Music Symposium (2002). The results indicated prevailing tendencies in the teaching of music theory at the time. The present article provides a seventeen-year update to Nelson’s survey. It reports on a new survey that included many of the questions asked in the first survey as well as additional questions on new trends in the teaching of music theory. The new survey included questions on the inclusion of technology and online learning in theory and aural training classes; questions on the integration of writing, composition, improvisation, and performance in theory classes; and questions on content shifts, such as the inclusion of non-western music (e.g., film, jazz and popular music) and other types of notation and analytical systems (e.g. lead sheet symbols, Nashville numbers, Neo-Riemannian theory and Schenkerian analysis). The article compares the results of both surveys and reflects on changes and trends while considering other important scholarship on the state of the curriculum. Overall, this article provides useful information for music theory instructors as well as lays a foundation for future surveys on the state of the curriculum.
Murphy, Barbara and McConville, Brendan
"Music Theory Undergraduate Core Curriculum Survey: a 2017 Update,"
Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy: Vol. 31, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcollections.lipscomb.edu/jmtp/vol31/iss1/9