Prose writing in the music theory classroom is often a daunting task for both instructors and students. For instructors, the very thought of the heavy grading load associated with writing assignments combined with the difficulty that we know students encounter when writing about music (especially if students’ general written communication skills are still developing) can be overwhelming, even if we personally believe that our students would benefit from engaging in written communication about music. For many students, communication in written form is a skill that they are still developing, and writing about music only adds an additional challenge—especially when they are still immersed in learning the music theory concepts that they are now being asked to write about.

This article joins a developing tradition of seeking to develop ways and means to make this skill more manageable, palatable, and effective for both students and teachers. I first present a detailed literature review discussing methods and projects used by music theory instructors; these approaches feature a variety of learning outcomes, and projects range from “simple” content summary to analytical papers to metacognitive writing and other applications. These projects vary greatly in size and scope, presenting a wealth of ideas for implementation and providing feedback to students. I then present the design and implementation of two writing assignments I have used in my own classrooms: A series of small-scale analytical papers and a series of weekly journal entries which cover both content/fact-based approaches and reflective writing.

01-A_JMTP_Vol-37_England-Appendices.pdf (617 kB)
Appendices that detail the assignment.