Teaching Music Theory through Wind Repertoire

Samantha Inman and David Campo, Stephen F. Austin University

Despite the centrality of bands and wind ensembles in secondary and post-secondary music education, wind repertoire remains an underutilized resource for teaching music theory. This presentation explores why, what, and how to change this. Part I outlines the motivations for teaching theory through wind literature. Many band and wind ensemble pieces employ a tonal harmonic language, thus easily fitting within extant theory curricula. Incorporating repertoire students are playing increases both student interest in the theoretical topics and motivation for exploring how understanding of theory can impact performance. The main obstacle lies in the lack of known examples. Addressing this concern, Part II correlates specific excerpts from common wind works with topics typically taught in AP Music Theory and the undergraduate theory sequence and presents sample lesson plans. Part III considers the perspective of wind conductors, highlighting the role music theory can play in rehearsal. While this presentation focuses on music for winds, these approaches to using repertoire to engage students could easily be adapted to other types of ensembles, including choir and orchestra.