Peer Learning Program workshops are three-hour seminars led by prominent scholars. They provide the opportunity to learn—from the workshop leader as well as from peers—new perspectives on fundamental issues in music theory, and to apply that learning to research and teaching. The topics range widely across music-theoretical research and teaching interests. 



The program is intended to encourage “thinking together,” in the spirit of the Mannes Institute founded by Wayne Alpern and organized by him during the years 2001–11. 

View past workshops

Eligibility and selection

  • The workshops are open to all members of the Society who have completed a doctoral degree. (Separate workshop opportunities are also available to those who have not completed a Ph.D.)
  • Participants are selected by a random draw from the pool of eligible applicants.
  • Prior PLP participants are permitted to apply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants.
  • To encourage interaction, each workshop is limited to approximately 10–12 participants.


  The deadline to apply for 2022 workshops was June 15. The application portal is closed.


  • Please note that PLP workshops will take place the morning of Thursday, November 10; by applying you are committing to arrive at the conference in time to participate in the workshop.
  • Some reading and mental preparation are required, but not extensive written assignments, in consideration of the professional responsibilities of the participants.


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.

SMT 2022 Workshops 

WORD – MUSIC – IMAGE: Interpreting Multimodal Expression in Popular Music Video

Lori Burns, University of Ottawa

This workshop is designed for music theorists/analysts who are interested in the interpretation of multimodal expression in popular music video. During my research in this domain for over two decades, I have developed interdisciplinary approaches for the analysis and interpretation of the musical, textual, and visual content of music videos across a range of genres. It is understood that social and cultural messages and meanings emerge through genre-based discourses and aesthetics. As I work to illuminate such messages and meanings, I consider three channels (modalities) of expression – lyrics, music, images – and identify and interpret the content that characterizes each of these domains according to cross-cutting parameters, for instance, thematic, gestural, spatial, temporal, relational. Adopting such an approach to cross-domain analysis calls upon the music theorist to develop coherent and rigorous ways of integrating music-analytic data with lyrical and visual content and expression. During the workshop, a discussion of the analytic methods will lead to an exploratory application of these tools in selected music videos from three different popular music genres.

Analyzing Musical Instruments: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Possibilities

Jonathan De Souza, Western University

In recent years, music theorists have increasingly considered body-instrument interaction, as part of a broader turn toward performance, embodiment, and technology. Theorists have drawn on transformational theory, phenomenology, and other approaches to analyze patterns involving instrumental interfaces and performative actions, patterns which are felt by players and sometimes heard by listeners. Yet this research has been preceded by significant work in other disciplines. Decades earlier, ethnomusicologists investigated instrumental practices via the anthropology of the body, and organologists studied instruments’ construction, use, and cultural significance. Meanwhile, cognitive scientists considered instrumental music-making as a complex type of expert performance. In this workshop, we will engage with scholarship, both old and new, from these varied disciplines. This literature will provide a rich and diverse set of musical case studies. At the same time, it will help us to reflect on how these different disciplinary perspectives complement and challenge each other—and how theoretical, analytical, ethnographic, taxonomic, experimental, and philosophical methods can illuminate close relationships between musicians and their instruments.


For additional information, please contact the Chair of the Committee on Workshop Programs

View the full committee