Threshold concepts in music industry education

Document Type



The purpose of this study was to identify potential threshold concepts in the music industry as perceived by expert music industry professionals; the data collected may possibly inform postsecondary music industry degree program curriculum design. Threshold concept theory emerged in the early 2000s largely due to the research of Meyer & Land (2003, 2005) as a means to illuminate discipline-specific criteria that irreversibly transform a learner’s positionality within a professional discipline. Through the mastery of a threshold concept, a learner becomes aware of discipline specific norms, and may experience a reconstitution of their own identity as a professional. This is the first study to explore threshold concepts within the music industry. This study is also aimed to contribute to a growing body of research at the intersection of threshold concepts and business education. Utilizing qualitative research informed by phenomenology, semi-structured interviews based on the primary tenets of the threshold concept theory framework were conducted. “Expert” music industry professionals were asked to reflect upon their lived experiences regarding their assimilation into the music industry and maintenance of a sustainable career in the discipline. The data collected were aligned with the threshold concept theory framework in order to illuminate potential threshold concepts specific to the music industry. Results indicate that there exist possible dispositional and disciplinary threshold concepts relative to becoming a music industry professional. The identification, prioritization, and utilization of threshold concepts are applicable to curriculum planning at both the macro- (program creation, execution, and evaluation) and micro- (course creation, planning, instruction, and evaluation) levels for post-secondary music industry education.