NEC’s new Integrative Curriculum weaves together the many strands of a conservatory education, including music history, performance, composition and entrepreneurship, in fresh and dynamic ways. The result: NEC students graduate as holistic musicians with the tools and creative confidence to make a transformative artistic and social impact on their careers — and on the wider world.
How it works
NEC’s innovative music education model puts music into context by combining traditionally separate classes — music theory, performance, and business skills — into comprehensive and engaging lessons that connect coursework with real-life applications. In these courses, theory meets practice, projects are central, and music is a lens to other disciplines. Faculty are encouraged to develop innovative ways to guide students to grow more deeply as artists.
As straightforward as this approach seems, it is a radical departure from the standard conservatory education. NEC introduced its new integrative approach to learning in 2022 and is moving to infuse this model into nearly every course it offers.
In this interconnected, applied-learning model, NEC supports and nurtures each student’s artistic voice and professional development, equipping them with a comprehensive range of core musical and management skills:
Examples of Integrative Curriculum courses include:
In “Creativity and Manuscripts,” violinist and faculty member Nicholas Kitchen asked students to look to Beethoven’s own handwritten notation for insights into the composer’s process and intended expression.
“Performance and Analysis: Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas” paired violin faculty member Miriam Fried with music theory professor Andrew Schartmann in a co-taught class that demonstrated for piano and violin students the direct connection between theory and performance.
In Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol’s “Music of Turkey and the Ottoman Period,” students both study and perform a variety of Turkish music, bringing the cultural and historical complexities of the music into clearer context.