Critical-race theory is coming to a music department near you.
Oxford University has joined the trend to label anything developed in Western culture as racist. The famous English college is revamping their music department in an effort to make the program “less white,” according to British newspaper The Telegraph.
According to news outlets, professors are striving to make a number of dramatic changes to “decolonize” the department’s syllabi.
Internal documents seen by The Telegraph included a claim from the faculty that sheet music, also known as musical notation, has not “shaken off its connection to its colonial past.”
Sheet music can be linked to a “colonialist representational system,” the faculty alleged.
Continuing to teach sheet music would be a “slap in the face” for non-white students, a faculty member wrote, so the practice should be dropped entirely.
The document suggested that by teaching European-focused music and fundamental practices like sheet music, the department was guilty of being “complicit in white supremacy.”
According to Yahoo News, the changes are in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Arising from international Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the Faculty Board proposed making changes to enhance the diversity of the undergraduate curriculum.”
Although Oxford’s music department offers multiple courses focused on non-European music, faculty said the current curriculum focuses too much on “white European music from the slave period.”
Traditionally, undergraduate students pursuing a degree in music were required to take courses in practical application, such as learning to play the piano or conduct orchestras.
The faculty explained that these skills “structurally center [around] white European music” and cause “students of color great distress,” so they should no longer be required.
A spokesperson from Oxford told music website Classic FM, “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.”
After considerable backlash, including from black musicians, music teachers and performers, the school may be backtracking.
“No such proposal or suggestion has been made about sheet music or western musical notation,” they stated. But n conversation with the Associated Press, Stephen Rouse, head of university communications at Oxford, acknowledged that the proposals were real.