Graduate Student Workshop Program (GSWP)

The SMT offers educational workshops for graduate students, emphasizing instruction, participation, and discussion. The Graduate Student Workshop Program was founded by Wayne Alpern, who acted as Administrative Director of the Program from 2006–2011, and whose efforts, innovative ideas, and financial contributions supported the Program during its initial years. To encourage interaction, each workshop is limited to approximately 10–12 participants. Since its inception, around 249 graduate students have participated in the GSWP.

The 2015 workshops, each led by a prominent scholar in the field, took place on Friday, October, 30, during the SMT annual meeting in St. Louis.

Applications closed
The application deadline for the 2015 workshops was April 1. There is no space remaining in the workshop.


All full-time students registered in a graduate program in music theory, or in a graduate program in musicology or composition with a substantial theory component, and who have not received their Ph.D. as of April 1, 2015, are eligible to apply. Participants are selected by a random draw from the pool of applicants. The GSWP is intended to provide students with the opportunity to study with a professor not at their home institution; therefore, students affiliated with the institution of the instructor are not eligible for that instructor’s workshop. Prior GSWP participants are permitted to apply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants.


There is no fee to participate in the program. Participants are responsible, however, for the cost of SMT membership and conference registration (but not at the time of application), as well as for other expenses of attendance, including transportation, housing, and meals. The GSWP provides a reception on the evening before the workshops and a modest brown-bag lunch after the workshops.

2015 Workshops

Suzannah Clark (Harvard University): Schubert’s Modulatory Practice and the History of Tonal Coherence

In recent scholarship, Schubert’s music has served as a central repertoire in mining newly invented tonal spaces for their explanatory power. These geometries of tonal space have rightly been heralded for their advantages in revealing the coherence of Schubert’s harmonic choices where previous tonal designs revealed chaos. In this workshop, we shall read in detail Schubert’s first critics to gain a sense of what shocked them about Schubert’s music and what they understood to constitute harmonic coherence. We shall analyze some of the same works they did, contrasting what they had to say with our own modern analytical impressions, based on the application of a variety of theoretical models of tonal space (as part of the preparation for the workshop, brief introductions to these tonal spaces will be provided for those not already familiar with them). In the process, we shall witness how musical meaning radically shifts when Schubert’s music is looked at through historical versus modern theoretical lenses. In those cases where Schubert’s modulations still emerge as chaotic in our analyses, we shall witness how certain habits of Schubert’s handling of pitch mean that he possesses a modulatory style that often remains incongruous with the mechanics of pitch organization that lie at the heart of the designs of existing tonal spaces; Schubert’s modulatory practice therefore demands a novel way of conceptualizing tonal logic. The workload will include the analysis of four or five songs by Schubert and the reading of relevant primary and secondary literature. All readings will be in English.

Robert Gjerdingen (Northwestern University): Cognitive Science Meets the Orphans

In a surprising historical twist, the old methods used to teach orphans and foundlings at the 18th century conservatories of Naples, Italy seem to have followed what the learning sciences of today would consider state-of-the-art cognitive and pedagogical principles. Workshop participants will explore both the “old school” methods of Europe (especially those in the conservatories of Naples, Paris, and Munich) and modern ideas like exemplar-based categorization, usage-based grammar, construction grammar, and the importance of improvisation. We will study and evaluate partimenti, solfeggi, basse donnée, chant donné, and the art of realization both at the keyboard and in open score.

Previous Workshops

  • 2014: Exploring Pitch Memory and Melody Perception: Empirical Approaches Instructor: Elizabeth West Marvin (Eastman School of Music); Finding Narratives in Formal Analysis of Popular Music Instructor:: Jocelyn Neal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Renaissance Instrumental Music Instructor: Peter Schubert (McGill University)
  • 2013: The Idea of Musical Form as Process, from Analytic and Performance Perspectives Instructor: Janet Schmalfeldt (Tufts University); What is Metric Well Formedness? Instructor: Justin London (Carleton College)
  • 2012: Harmony and Voice Leading in Rock and Pop Music Instructor: Walt Everett (University of Michigan); A Corpus-Based Approach to Tonal Theory Instructor: Ian Quinn (Yale University)
  • 2011: Exploring Musical Spaces Instructor: Julian Hook (Indiana University)
  • 2010: Stravinsky Instructor: Gretchen Horlacher (Indiana University); Musical Narrative Instructor: Michael Klein (Temple University)
  • 2009: Music Pedagogy Instructor: Brian Alegant (Oberlin College); Schenkerian Analysis Instructor: Poundie Burstein (City University of New York)
  • 2008: Musical Meaning in Beethoven Instructor: Robert Hatten (Indiana University); Analyzing Contemporary Music Instructor: John Roeder (University of British Columbia)
  • 2007: Sonata Theory Instructors: James Hepokoski (Yale University) and Warren Darcy (Oberlin College); Analyzing Early Music Instructor: Cristle Collins Judd (Bowdoin College)
  • 2006: Voice Leading in Atonal Music Instructor: Joseph Straus (City University of New York)


For additional information, please contact Julian Hook, Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs, at . The 2015 Committee on Workshop Programs also includes Sarah Marlowe (New York University), Joti Rockwell (Pomona College), and Ian Quinn (Yale University).

Workshop opportunities are also available to those who have completed a Ph.D.