The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University celebrates growth and looks toward the future with new graduate jazz fellowships, open education resources, and more
With the largest student body in its 165-year history this September, the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University welcomed 760 musicians and dancers hailing from 44 states and more than 30 countries to Baltimore to study and perform with its diverse and distinguished artist faculty. Following the development of innovative new offerings ranging from the Breakthrough Curriculum to Dance, Music for New Media, and an expanded Jazz Studies program, Peabody has seen a 24% growth in enrollment over the past five years, marking a milestone in its reimagining of the conservatory experience within the classical tradition and beyond, alongside new academic programs, fellowships, and initiatives aimed at broadening access and impact across the performing arts.
Curricular Innovation and New Academic Programs
From its founding as the first conservatory in the United States, Peabody has remained a leader at the intersection of art and education through its focus on excellence and innovation, advancing a dynamic conservatory model designed to prepare flexible and entrepreneurial citizen artists for a rapidly evolving performing arts landscape. The Breakthrough Curriculum, introduced in 2017 and now celebrating its fifth anniversary, empowers students to engage with a diverse range of styles, techniques, and artistic traditions across disciplines and genres, with a suite of core classes and career resources designed to broaden every student’s creative and professional toolkits and foster community connectivity, essential for success in 21st-century arts careers, whether in classical or contemporary music and dance.
Peabody has focused on revitalizing and expanding its Jazz Studies program as a critical part of the American canon, appointing acclaimed trumpeter and educator Sean Jones as the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz Studies in 2018. After four years of growth in the Bachelor of Music in Jazz program, Peabody is now expanding its graduate program to include a Master of Music in Jazz alongside its Graduate Performance Diploma and launching a graduate jazz fellowship that covers full tuition plus a stipend for up to three students per year, creating more equitable access to advanced studies. The fellowship emphasizes citizenship and social engagement as key components of outstanding musicianship; as part of their training, fellows will work closely with Jones, perform in a select ensemble, and connect with the greater Baltimore community through concerts and outreach, engaging with the city’s historic jazz traditions and building relationships with leading jazz institutions. All applicants to the graduate jazz program will be automatically considered for the fellowship, which will enroll its first cohort in fall 2023.
Established in the Breakthrough Curriculum’s inaugural year, Peabody’s pioneering programs in Dance and Music for New Media have also continued to grow and adapt since their inception.Spanning ballet, modern, African diasporic traditions, somatic movement practices, and social engagement, the uniquely interdisciplinary Dance program equips students to enter the field as performers, choreographers, teachers, scholars, and community leaders. The cutting-edge Music for New Media program was created to meet students’ rising interest in fields ranging from film and TV scoring to video game and virtual reality sound design, and has spurred further growth and innovation across Peabody’s Composition, Music Technology, and Recording Arts and Sciences departments. The first cohort of Dance and Music for New Media students, who graduated in May 2022, have already begun to move into the field as sound designers, composers, performers, and educators.
The Peabody Institute has also continued to expand its arts and health collaborations with Johns Hopkins Medicine, leading the field in arts-in-healthcare as well as clinical care for performing artists. A new performing arts health research lab, created this fall, is now recruiting participants for its first study; previous research collaborations have already produced new medical findings and public resources like the PD Strummers Performance Ensemble, which provides group guitar classes at the Peabody Preparatory as an evidence-backed intervention for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Sound Rounds, created in 2018 in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Councils, brings musicians from the Peabody Institute to perform at patients’ bedsides. The Johns Hopkins Rehabilitation Network (JHRN) Clinic for Performing Artists at the Peabody Institute leverages the expertise of Peabody artists alongside doctors, therapists, and neurologists to provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment for performance-related injuries. Workshops on peak performance and injury prevention are also built into the Peabody Conservatory curriculum.
As a complement to the Conservatory, aimed at fostering artists and art lovers of all ages and experience levels, the Peabody Institute also includes the Preparatory, Baltimore’s oldest and largest community performing arts school. The Peabody Preparatory’s programs encompass early childhood through adult continuing education, with more than 2,000 students participating in music and dance lessons, ensembles, and classes at its five campuses located throughout central Maryland. 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of the Preparatory’s flagship youth development program Tuned-In, which provides Baltimore City Public Schools students with a free intensive musical education, creating a pathway to college or conservatory; nearly 100% of program alumni have gone on to pursue higher education, and many have reinvested their talents in Baltimore as teachers or mentors for the next generation of Tuned-In students.
Expanding Access to Artistic Training
Peabody has made institutional and industry-wide change on diversity, equity, access, and inclusion a pillar of its strategic vision, curriculum, and internal practices, as well as convening critical conversations through public programs like its Next Normal symposium series exploring the future of the field. Since 2015, the Conservatory has more than doubled the number of students from underrepresented communities to 18% of the 2022 cohort through concerted recruitment and pipeline efforts, and tripled the proportion of faculty from underrepresented groups to a total of 15%. In a critical next step, as part of the larger Johns Hopkins Pathways to PhD initiative, Peabody is launching a Pathways to DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) program aimed at expanding opportunities for applicants from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program, the highest level of professional training in performance or composition. Each year beginning with fall 2023 enrollment, Peabody will provide grant funding for two students to begin a Master of Music (MM) program with a defined and supported pathway for matriculation to the DMA. During the Master of Music, Pathways students will receive mentorship and networking opportunities and produce a final capstone project that will position them for enrollment and success in the DMA. The program also provides full tuition remission and a stipend for four years, from the beginning of the MM through the first two years of the DMA residency.
In addition to creating opportunities within the Conservatory itself, Peabody is taking part in Shared Voices, a new initiative spearheaded by renowned vocalist, advocate, and Peabody faculty member Denyce Graves that aims to foster a more dynamic and diverse classical vocal arts landscape. The program connects classical voice students from historically Black colleges and universities with faculty, students, and resources at preeminent conservatories, as well as masterclasses and a new online career development series from The Metropolitan Opera. For the pilot year, the Peabody Conservatory is joined by The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Oberlin Conservatory of Music in collaboration with Howard University, Fisk University, Morgan State University, and Morehouse College.
Peabody will also make expert career guidance for performing artists accessible to all through its first open education resource (OER), a free online textbook to be released in October 2022.Developed by Peabody’s Learning Innovation team and the LAUNCHPad career mentorship office, which was created as part of the Breakthrough Curriculum’s new approach to career planning and life design, The Path to Funding: The Artist’s Guide to Building Your Audience, Generating Income, and Realizing Career Sustainability not only provides guidance on the process of applying for grants and other funding, but also empowers readers to define and articulate their artistic identity and purpose. Based on the Conservatory course Pitching Your Creative Idea, the textbook builds on the success of the Breakthrough Curriculum in preparing artists to forge unconventional paths as creative leaders in their communities.
More information on all of Peabody’s programs and initiatives is available at peabody.jhu.edu.