Bill Marvin

William Marvin

Associate Professor of Music Theory




William Marvin joined the Eastman faculty in 2002 after having taught music theory and aural skills at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Prior to that he was a teaching assistant at Eastman while working on his master’s degree, and received both the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student (1992), and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Prize (1990). Marvin completed his Ph.D. in music theory at Eastman in 2002. He received his B.A. with highest honors from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Marvin’s work in theory has focused on problems of tonality according to Schenkerian definitions as exemplified in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; examinations of form and tonal structure in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer; aural training in tonal and post-tonal music; sonata deformation in Mahler’s Third Symphony; improvisation in nineteenth-century French organ music; off-tonic beginnings and endings; and the quodlibet as a contrapuntal device in Broadway musicals. He has presented papers at international, national, and regional conferences. His published work can be found at Music Theory OnlineJournal of Musicology, Intégral, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and in several books edited by Deborah Stein (OUP), Matthew Bribitzer-Stull (Palgrave-Schirmer), and Gordon Sly (Ashgate).

His work in aural skills has taken him into the unusual realm of teaching aural skills—without notation—to blind music students. From 1997 through 2001, he worked individually with blind students, teaching aural skills and overseeing the rehearsal and performance of an ensemble work for 12 student performers, written by a blind composer and taught completely without notation.

Marvin oversees the undergraduate aural musicianship curriculum at Eastman, and he previously designed and implemented the aural skills curriculum at Oberlin. In both programs, aural musicianship is intimately connected with coursework in written music theory, and his curriculum emphasizes immediate recognition, comprehension, and expressive performance of musical material as heard and seen.