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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 30, Issue 3, Fall 2015

Michael Lively
Pages 59-68

Critical Thinking and the Pedagogy of Music Theory

Students of music theory are often challenged by both the complexity of the concepts that they are expected to learn and by the abstract nature of these ideas. For many students, their direct experience with music, acquired during the study of skills associated with musical performance, does not directly translate into the intellectual environment of traditional music theory classes. The difficulty derives from the gap between the students’ perception of musical structure and the understanding of these concepts generally held by composers and music theorists. In this study, I suggest that in addition to systematically teaching the content of the established music theory curriculum, instructors have more success when developing instructional material and determining the design of their courses by considering higher-level critical thinking skills

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