Enriching the Aural Skills Classroom with the Inclusion of Popular Music Traditions

Open Access
Geesey, Alison Marie
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Taylor Aitken Greer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Ann Callistro Clements, Honors Advisor
  • popular music traditions
  • music theory
  • aural skills
  • music theory pedagogy
  • aural skills pedagogy
  • sight singing
  • pop
In today’s aural skills classroom, “popular” music and “classical” music are classified into two separate categories. Because of popular music’s lack of inclusion in the classical canon, such traditions continue to be neglected and underrepresented in aural skills textbooks and curricula. With many students receiving constant exposure to popular music through technologies such as iPods, YouTube, and music streaming, the disconnect between popular traditions and the aural skills classroom remains startling. If connections can be drawn between repertoire from popular traditions and the aural skills curriculum, students are given the opportunity to understand concepts on a deeper level with repertoire they may be more familiar with. This thesis sets out to establish the “canonic” problem in the aural skills classroom, suggesting an expansion of the canon to include appropriate popular music repertoire, while simultaneously utilizing the repertoire of the classical canon. This is achieved through aural skills textbook research, outlining the lack of popular repertoire in textbooks used in today’s classrooms. Additionally, some harmonic concepts frequently occur in popular music traditions, which are also outlined and explained in this thesis. The culmination of this research results in a discussion of topics in the aural skills classroom, complete with accompanying “popular” repertoire examples. Popular music traditions possess a complementary relationship with the classical canon and can create alternative methods of learning and success in the aural skills classroom.