Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen Blum

Committee Members

Geoffrey Burleson

Chalon Ragsdale

Morris Lang

Norman Carey

Subject Categories

Music Education | Music Pedagogy | Music Performance | Music Practice | Other Music


music, speaking, public speaking, curriculum, music performance, speech


The future of music depends not only upon the musician and his/her pursuit of technical and musical excellence, but also on the performer’s ability to effectively communicate musical ideas with the audience verbally, helping them to connect to the music beyond just a general or analytical level in pursuit of true appreciation. The ability to express multiple layers of the performer’s approach to repertoire, providing each audience with an informed vehicle for their own understanding and examination, is a supremely useful tool for advancing support for music. The intent of this document is to make a compelling argument to justify the need for a new curriculum to prepare the performer as communicator, educator, and aesthetic interpreter of music, identifying and elaborating upon four overarching areas of observation important to analysis, public speaking, and personal understanding: foundational, historical/theoretic, narrative, and profound. Aligning with what appears to be a standard approach to “music appreciation” for the general public, performers themselves often overlook the aesthetic, emotional, familiar, and profound concepts inherent within the music, focusing primarily on general aspects or concrete harmonic or metric constructs. This document will also focus partially on the history and controversy of the development of “music appreciation” imparted from musical artists to the general public (starting around 1930, and building upon efforts of earlier music critics), citing opinions and assertions from prominent performers, educators, and philosophers about the critical and often ignored components that generate musical understanding and appreciation within the listener.

The fundamental motivation for this project is my work with students in a conservatory setting, as Director of the Alan D. Marks Center for Career Services and Entrepreneurship at The Juilliard School, along with concurrent observations while teaching music and art appreciation at St. John’s University, where I am an adjunct Associate Professor (teaching courses entitled The Creative Process, and Creativity and the Arts). I see the most prevalent focus of conservatory students as practice. While they work to hone their technical skills for the concert stage, little attention seems to be given to their ability to also present music to an audience through public speaking and other forms of interaction and engagement. This sometimes can result in non-musicians being stifled by a lack of understanding of the music being performed; contemporary music in particular. I feel that much of this lack of understanding can be corrected through effective communication on behalf of the musician, and a well-executed presentation of some or all of the above-listed areas of observation.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Wednesday, February 01, 2023

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