Oxford music professors say sheet music is "colonialist," want to “decolonize” curriculum

by Jenny Mount · Mar 31st, 2021 10:51 am

Last Updated Apr 2nd, 2021 at 7:21 am

The University of Oxford's music department staff members are saying sheet music is "colonialist" and have suggested ways to "decolonize" the curriculum, according to documents reviewed by The Telegraph.

Professors within the department say that music notation has not "shaken off its connection to its colonial past." They argue that not rebranding would be a "slap in the face" for students of color. The faculty members have also questioned whether the current curriculum was complicit in "white supremacy."

The professors said that certain classical music skills, like playing the piano and conducting orchestral arrangements, should not be a requirement since they structurally center "white European music" and cause "students of color great distress."

The faculty members believe the curriculum should offer studies such as "African and African Diasporic Musics," "Global Musics," and "Popular Musics," adding that the school's nearly "all-white faculty" gives "privilege to white musicians" by default.

"While retaining (and in no way diminishing) our traditional excellence in the critical analysis, history and performance of the broad range of western art music, we are exploring ways to enhance our students' opportunities to study a wider range of non-western and popular music from across the world than is currently on offer, as well as music composition, the psychology and sociology of music, music education, and much more," said a spokesperson for Oxford's Faculty of Music


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