Teaching Practicum (MUTH 710)


The Teaching Practicum will normally be completed during PhD 4 or PhD 5. Students should speak to their supervisor the semester before they plan to schedule the Teaching Practicum.

The student is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Speaking to the supervisor the semester before they plan to schedule the Teaching Practicum to review the policies and procedures outlined below.
  • Registering for MUTH 710, with the supervisor as the instructor, during the semester of the Teaching Practicum. MUTH 710 is a 0-credit course that serves as a record of the Teaching Practicum. Questions about registering for MUTH 710 may be directed to the Music graduatestudies.music [at] mcgill.ca (Graduate Studies) office.

The supervisor is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Identifying a class that is suitable for the student to visit (typically MUTH 251).
  • Coordinating with the instructor of that course to arrange a date.
  • Assembling a Teaching Practicum evaluation committee, normally comprising the supervisor plus at least two additional full-time faculty members of the music theory area.
  • Together with the committee, and in consultation with the instructor of the course to be visited, selecting a suitable topic for the Teaching Practicum, and communicating that topic to the student exactly one week in advance.
  • Scheduling an evaluation/feedback meeting of the committee together with the student, within a week after the Teaching Practicum.
  • Recording a grade of “pass” or “fail” for MUTH 710, as appropriate based on the determination of the committee. A grade of “pass” will serve as a record that the Teaching Practicum degree milestone has been successfully satisfied; a grade of “fail” indicates that a new Teaching Practicum should be scheduled (typically in a future semester).

Learning Outcomes

Through the teaching practicum, candidates will gain experience compiling materials for a class on a particular topic, organizing and hierarchizing the information, designing class activities and preparing a lesson plan, presenting information clearly and concisely, and answering students’ questions and otherwise interacting with the class. This serves as valuable practice for the teaching demonstration that is typically part of a job interview. The committee will evaluate the teaching demonstration and offer the candidate specific advice regarding any aspects that could be improved upon.

Procedures and Requirements

The teaching practicum should be 50 minutes long and will take place during a regularly scheduled undergraduate class in the core music theory sequence. The class topic will be assigned to the candidate exactly one week in advance. At the beginning of the demonstration, the regular course instructor will briefly introduce the candidate, who will then teach the class for 50 minutes.

The format of the class is up to the candidate, but one successful approach begins with an explanation of the context for the lesson, includes a visual component (such as handouts with annotated scores or other information and/or projected slides), an aural component (playing recordings or live performance), and an interactive component (questions, general discussion or debate, practice exercises, error detection, etc.) as well as verbal explanations. The candidate is responsible for bringing copies of scores or handouts for the students and members of the committee.

Evaluation Criteria

A successful teaching practicum will show the candidate’s preparation and mastery of the material, and their ability to present materials clearly in multiple modalities (verbal, visual, and aural), in a logical sequence of concepts and activities, at a level appropriate to the class. Candidates will also be assessed on the interactivity of their teaching and their responsiveness to student questions.


The candidate is encouraged to discuss principles of lesson planning with their supervisor and/or committee (but not during the week of preparation immediately prior to the Teaching Practicum). For a theoretical topic, the student is encouraged to study the treatment of the topic in multiple textbooks, and to plan to teach it in 4 steps: explain it, demonstrate it, have the class practice applying it, and evaluate their application. For an analytical topic, do your own analysis, but also check Google Scholar and ProQuest Dissertations for published analyses, and decide on the best way to approach the work (for example, would it be more engaging to begin with a formal overview, a bar-by-bar walkthrough, or an examination of one particular parameter?).

Decide on an approximate window of time for each activity (20 minutes maximum is a good rule of thumb), and practice the teaching demonstration in advance. During the class, remember to project your voice, make eye contact with the class, move around the room (avoid getting stuck behind the piano or desk), and most importantly, periodically ask the students questions to check for comprehension. Have a watch or your phone where you can see it, to make sure that you begin and end on time.

Evaluation/Feedback Meeting

Members of the committee may pose questions about the Teaching Practicum at this meeting. Committee members may provide constructive comments and suggestions about the Teaching Practicum. At the conclusion of the meeting, the committee will inform the candidate whether the Teaching Practicum degree milestone has been successfully passed.