Students from the Paul Green School of Rock Music performing at the 2009 Fremont Fair, Seattle, Washington

Popular music pedagogy — alternatively called popular music education, rock music pedagogy, or rock music education — is a development in music education consisting of the systematic teaching and learning of popular music both inside and outside formal classroom settings.[1] Popular music pedagogy tends to emphasize group improvisation[2] and is more often associated with community music activities than fully institutionalized school music ensembles.[3]

The origins of popular music pedagogy may be traced to the gradual infusion of rock music into formal schooling since the 1960s (in the UK, the USA, and elsewhere), however it has expanded as a specialization to include the offering of degree programs — including graduate degrees — in institutions of higher education.[4] Some notable community institutions, such as Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Seattle's Experience Music Project have also contributed to the development of popular music pedagogy through symposia and educational outreach programs.

The UK has pioneered the teaching of popular music, the first degree programme beginning as early as 1994 at Salford University. Postgraduate programmes were later introduced, for example at the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. There are now more than 76 popular music studies degree programmes in the UK.[5] These programs expanded when the UK government made popular music a core part of schools' music provision through the Curriculum 2000 developments. The effect rippled into other countries as well. Popular music is commonly taught in German speaking countries [6] and in Ghana, for example.[7] It is also increasingly common in Australia. However, popular music courses tend to be based in newer institutions, rather than older more traditional ones, which often still focus principally on classical music.

Degree programs

Numerous institutions worldwide now offer popular music pedagogy as a component of their degree programs. The following is a partial list of institutions that offer advanced degree programs in popular music pedagogy and related fields:





The Netherlands


United Kingdom

United States

Popular music festivals in the United States of America

See also


  1. ^ Hebert, David G. "Originality and Institutionalization: Factors Engendering Resistance to Popular Music Pedagogy in the U.S.A.." Music Education Research International 5, pp.12-21 (2011).
  2. ^ Higgins, Lee and Campbell, Patricia Shehan, Free to be Musical: Group Improvisation in Music (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2010).
  3. ^ Higgins, Lee, Community Music: In Theory and in Practice (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  4. ^ Lebler, Don "Popular Music Pedagogy: Peer Learning in Practice." Music Education Research 10 no. 2, pp.93-213 (2008).
  5. ^ Hulstedt, Lauren; Cloonan, Martin (2013-02-18). "Looking for Something New: The Provision of Popular Music Studies Degrees in the UK". IASPM@Journal. 3 (2): 63–77. doi:10.5429/620.
  6. ^ Pfleiderer, Martin (27 May 2011). "German-language Popular Music Studies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland". IASPM Journal. 2 (1–2): 45–50. doi:10.5429/571. Retrieved 27 May 2023 – via
  7. ^ Collins, John (27 May 2011). "The Introduction of Popular Music Studies to Ghanaian Universities". IASPM Journal. 2 (1–2): 34–44. doi:10.5429/563. Retrieved 27 May 2023 – via
  8. ^ [1] [dead link]
  9. ^ "THE 20 BEST MUSIC FESTIVALS OF 2014". Retrieved 27 May 2023.