Black Composers Have Been Missing From Music School Curriculums For 130 Years

Black composers

Established in 1889, The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is the most influential organization for music curriculums used around the world. However, musicians and industry leaders have long been criticizing it out for its extreme lack of diversity in its exam syllabuses.

According to The Guardian, almost 99% of the pieces on its syllabuses are by white composers, which is blatant disrespect to the many significant contributions of Black composers to music history.

As of 2020, ABRSM, which is based in London, England, only includes music from just eight Black composers in their educational material. This is completely unacceptable for an organization that was established more than 130 years ago and delivers more than 650,000 exams and assessments each year in more than 93 countries.

Music students, teachers and musicians all over the world agree that the overwhelmingly white curriculum is systematic racism and deters black talent from being applied to other institutions where music is taught. Even more, the exclusion has resulted in a decades-long belief and assumption that Black people did not compose classical music.