Why is My Classical Music Curriculum So White?

Decolonising the Classical Music Curriculum

I’m keen to develop an undergraduate/post-graduate module that showcases composers of colour. I’ve nothing against composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Adams, Stravinsky, Cage – I love their music. I just think there’s still a lot of emphasis on white men in this realm. Granted very talented men but there are other voices to highlight too, in terms of gender and culture.

I’m down to change things up (for myself at least). I am creating my own music curriculum. I mean, it’s the twenty-first century! I think it’s time we shared a more comprehensive range of stories about talented human beings passionate about the performance and creation of classical music.
I would have loved to have learnt about classical composers (and musicians) hailing from different cultures, especially when I was doing my A’levels, undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in music.

It was only when I did a research module at Master’s level that I decided to explore a mixed-race composer from Croydon. A composer who was championed by Elgar, prolific in output despite dying tragically young in his 30s – Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Through the research project, I tapped into a wonderful academic community of enthusiasts of his music and learnt how he tried earnestly to fuse an African aesthetic into classical composition.

Ideally, I’d love to teach a course in Higher Education on this. It would be a positive space to showcase the work of a broader section of classical compositional talent. White people fear not, I’m not dissing you, taking away from you, just adding to the story. Yes, we are all one my dear human brothers and sisters, (no irony intended) – but we aren’t sharing the cake fairly. I’m fed up of asking for crumbs, so I’m baking my own cake and dividing it up in a fairer way.