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    Theory I: breadth vs. depth

    Our Theory I course was originally designed as the first of a 4-semester sequence (following Fundamentals, though we include a couple weeks’ review) back when all majors took 4 semesters of theory, and all minors took the first 2 semesters.

    Now, our minors and also our Music Technology majors need take only Fundamentals and Theory I. Together these students make a majority of our Theory I cohort; for some of them Theory I will be their most advanced theory course. It is also worth noting that the majority of these students have their musical focus in popular, or jazz, or dance music.

    We are considering revising our curriculum to cover more ground (particularly more harmonic vocabulary) in Theory I at the expense of...something, likely some degree of rigor or voice-leading detail or partwriting practice. Currently we cover only diatonic chords in Theory I, following a preliminary unit of approx. 3 weeks on strict 2-voice counterpoint. The intent is that whatever we skip or skim over might be reincoporated into Theory II for those students ("traditional" majors) who do continue in our 4-semester theory track.

    We are interested in hearing thoughts from anyone who has recently considered the question of breadth vs. depth in Theory I, which I think is much in the air now, or from anyone whose Theory I curriculum leans toward the "breadth" end of the spectrum. Thanks in advance for all advice.




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