Will Oxford University Remake Its Music Program to Decolonize Its Curriculum?

(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

If you’re way woke, this might be music to your ears.

As indicated by internal documents acquired by The Telegraph, following Black Lives Matter protests, Oxford University is feeling pressure to clean up its act.


Amid the sweep: a decolonizing of curriculum.

And one professor at the world’s oldest English-speaking university has purportedly proposed removing a “colonialist” clunker: Western musical notation.

As it turns out, it would help purge “white hegemony” from the school.

The teacher allegedly asserted that Oxford’s currently-offered classical repertoire — which includes works by Beethoven and Mozart — is too concentrated on “white European music from the slave period.”

To be clear, Western music — as stated by The Daily Wire — developed before such a trade.

Nonetheless, as supposedly revealed by the documents, at least one staff member believes instructing students on notation that hasn’t “shaken off its connection to its colonial past” would amount to a “slap in the face” for some attendees.

The Telegraph relays that studies in music-writing have been marked for a rebranding. The goal: inclusivity.

A spokesperson for the school told the Washington Examiner the “sheet music claim” is unfounded.

However, it sounds as if a rebranding is in the cards:

“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, conducting, and much more. We look forward to sharing our curriculum in the coming months.”


If the goal is to remove white Europeans from white Europe, it seems to me that may prove a tall order.

But it wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to some if the race were eventually run.

For now, notes the Examiner, “One proposal reportedly says lessons could refocus from composers Guillaume de Machaut and Franz Schubert to ‘African and African Diasporic Musics,’ ‘Global Musics,’ and ‘Popular Musics.'”

The school’s doing what it can.

Earlier this year, one Oxford college eliminated an 18th-century slave trader’s name from its main library.

And last year, university leaders signed a promise to battle “against systemic racism.”

Additionally, they vowed to “advance equal dignity and respect, diversity of thought, good race relations, tolerance and multiculturalism in our institutions and the world.”

More from the letter:

We acknowledge the role that education can play in building racial equality and fair inclusion of black voices and perspectives in society. We recognise and regret that, for black members of our community, the unfolding crisis, together with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on their communities, has caused them particular anxiety, anger and pain.

It remains to be seen whether that pain could be relieved by nixing notation. But either way, the school appears determined to fix its flaws.


According to the Examiner, the recent discussion points toward an investigation into Oxford’s “complicity in white supremacy.”

Evidently, “including” everyone — for the school and for the world — is going to take a whole lot of work.



See more pieces from me:

Brown University Students Vote in Favor of Reparations for Those Who Descended From Slaves

Man Attacks His Girlfriend at a Bowling Alley, Gets Dropped Like a Pin by Another Woman

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Find all my RedState work here.

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