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Marianne Ploger

Associate Professor of Music Perception and Cognition; Director of the Musicianship Program

Professor Marianne Ploger brings more than 40 years of teaching, research, passion, and creativity to her appointments at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where she serves as Associate Professor of Music Perception and Cognition and as the Director of the Musicianship Program. She blends her wit, personality, and perspectives as a performer, conductor, scientist, and composer into her unique pedagogy known widely as the Ploger Method. Sharing her insights with her own private studios in Michigan, the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater, and Dance (SMTD), the Blair School of Music, and as a highly sought-after clinician and lecturer, Professor Ploger has impacted students and professionals across the world.

After earning her Master’s in Music, Piano Performance from the University of Michigan, Ploger led her own private studio, where she primarily taught advanced aural skills to college students. Her observations as a performer and teacher helped form the foundation for her fluency-based approach to musical perception and cognition, and the results she achieved led to an invitation to join the faculty at the graduate school for the University of Michigan’s SMTD. In addition to her service as part of the world-renowned conducting faculty there, she was recognized in 2018 as recipient of the SMTD’s Alumni Association Hall of Fame Award for her contributions in music education.

Ploger’s passion for and research into neuroscience are just as insightful today as they were in 1980. Forty years of digging and exploring has both put her research ahead of the curve and has given her a wide variety of environments, age groups, and experience levels to apply and refine her craft. Combining her interests in neurology, psychology, music education and real-time applications alongside her pedagogy developed as one of the late Nadia Boulanger’s last students, she developed her Method to serve as a practical model for real-time music perception and cognition. Her method is based in an accessible cross-section between the theoretical traditions of yesterday, the aural environment of today, and the performance-oriented, educational, and academic possibilities of tomorrow.

Alongside the articles she has coauthored, Professor Ploger has also released her own books – Ploger Method: Perceptual Principles for Developing Musicianship (2014) and The Ploger Method: Crafting a Fluent Musical Mind (2018). As a passionate educator, lecturer, and clinician, Ploger has led workshops and music language intensives across Europe and the United States, including appearances at the Hochschule für Kunst und Musik in Berlin, the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, the Bruchner Conservatory in Linz, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen, the University of Göteborg in Sweden, Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and Hamilton College.

In addition to her research and service as a pedagogue, Ploger is also in-demand as a composer and performer. She receives numerous commissions from individuals and institutions alike, including the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, Duke University, and Hamilton College (NY). Her music is frequently performed in the United States, Europe and Japan.

As a performer, writer, pedagogue, and aesthetic scientist, Ploger is constantly seeking the beauty in her work, in her community, and in her world. She and her husband and co-author, Keith Hill, carry this craftsman passion and attention to detail into every area of life, from their culinary passion to the distinctive beauties of the instruments Keith creates. They chase the beauty in all things to deepen and share their appreciation and understanding of the natural, musical, and scientific world around her.