Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Unveiling a New Curriculum

Unveiling a New Curriculum

This fall, the Peabody Conservatory will launch the Breakthrough Curriculum, aimed at expanding on the traditional conservatory experience to ensure Peabody graduates are fully prepared for success as 21st century musicians.

“The Peabody Institute Breakthrough Curriculum will infuse our grand tradition with new perspectives to create a model at the forefront of arts training in the United States,” says Dean Fred Bronstein. “This new framework will engage every student, undergraduate and graduate, in meaningful training experiences across critical skillsets, always led by the guiding goal of excellence and musical accomplishment.”

Excellence as a performing musician is, and always has been, at the center of a Peabody education, Dean Bronstein notes. The studio experience remains essential to the core training, and the academic program will continue to equip students with a strong foundation in music and the humanities.

Contemporary artists acknowledge, however, that excellence in performance is no longer the sole pursuit of conservatory education. Today’s conservatory graduates need to be resilient, innovative, and intellectually curious — all key characteristics of entrepreneurs — and possess strong written and oral communication skills. In addition, musicians need be effective and active advocates for the arts in their communities, he says.

Training and experience in these areas are offered at the periphery of many conservatory programs — including Peabody’s. But such opportunities have long been optional, Dean Bronstein says, and too few students take advantage of them, leaving many ill-prepared to navigate the challenging and ever-evolving musical landscape of the 21st century.

The Breakthrough Curriculum is organized into four levels — called Explore, Build, Implement, and Launch — through which students will progress in their years at Peabody. Through both traditional coursework and curated, project-based learning, students will develop competencies in written and oral communication; cultivate skills in programming, audience development, music entrepreneurship, and citizen artistry; and develop a digital portfolio with which they can propel their careers immediately upon graduation. In addition, instrumentalists will have ensemble training that emphasizes the flexibility increasingly needed in the music world.

Two task forces comprising more than 50 faculty members, students, administrators, and alumni have labored over the past year to shape the Breakthrough Curriculum. Abra Bush, senior associate dean for institute studies, expresses their excitement and optimism as the details are finalized: “As this new curriculum takes root, Peabody re-establishes itself as a leader in conservatory education,” she says, “producing musicians who emerge as trailblazers, creative innovators, and citizen-artists making a difference in today’s world.”

Look for a more in-depth exploration of the Breakthrough Curriculum in the Fall 2017 issue of Peabody Magazine.

— Tiffany Lundquist