A new model of classical music education for undergraduates redesigns what it means to be a virtuoso in the 21st century.
The music profession has changed, and we’ve changed with it. In our continuing commitment to rethinking how we train musicians for successful careers, USC Thornton unveiled a new educational model that launched in Fall 2019 for undergraduates in the Classical Performance & Composition Division. We call it the Classical ReDesign.
Our new degree structure offers more flexibility, allowing students to chart their own musical path and take electives in any area they wish. They maintain a robust core of performance, history, and theory classes, including a senior recital and an individualized project. And of course, students dedicate time honing their musical craft in the practice room.
Classical, jazz, and popular music students take theory and aural skills classes together, reimagining how music is presented & received.
Students begin the sequence “Music & Ideas” that rethinks music history, from Mozart to Miles Davis, in themes rather than chronology.
The Classical ReDesign degree structure allows students to take electives in any area they wish, charting their own musical path.
Thornton leadership reflect on The Classical ReDesign.
“Our students are highly successful in all the traditional ways. They are winning auditions, competitions, and finding fulfilling careers. It’s exactly because we are successful that we feel an obligation to lead a change to ensure a vibrant future for our art form.”
Because career development is integrated into the four-year curriculum and not relegated to a separate course, students work toward their professional goals from day one. Whether competing for coveted orchestral positions or launching their own ensembles, they have a wider range of opportunities and are able to create their own.
Thornton faculty identified eight components that define professional virtuosity and consider what it means to have a fulfilling musical career. The eight components (or through-lines) are addressed in every class, lesson, and rehearsal across an undergraduate’s journey in the Classical ReDesign.
At the heart of the new program is the Young Artist Project, which students begin working on in their junior year, providing an opportunity to specialize, collaborate, and shape work that reflects a distinct musical voice.
Students might visualize a composition, develop a hybrid performance, conduct research, or even explore new creative technologies – the Young Artist Project is about developing a unique voice to make their art powerful and relevant.
Meet the Thornton alumni who combined creativity and passion to create their Young Artist Projects in 2019.
‘Sonata for Music and Dance’ was designed to reach young audiences via social media.
‘Have Ya Heard’ podcast introduced classical audiences to talented women & BIPOC artists.
‘Humans of Classical Guitar’ website showcased guitarists around the world.
The Maqueos Music Academy partnership featured artists representing their cultures.