Dr. Sean Peuquet – Design Thinking and Accelerated Mentorship Applied to Music Technology Pedagogy

Dr. Sean Peuquet

Program Director, Madelife

Design Thinking and Accelerated Mentorship Applied to Music Technology Pedagogy

Recent trends in innovation-focused education and professional development increasingly lie at the intersection of Design Thinking and entrepreneurial growth strategies, which appear most codified within business start-up Accelerator and Incubator programs. The importing of seemingly arts-specific language within a business development context, and vice versa, is not purely rhetorical, but rather reveals overlapping neoliberal prerogatives: to at once be an inspired, creative individual able to fully express one’s identity, question socio-cultural assumptions, and demonstrate outside-the-box thinking, while simultaneously work in an efficient manner toward a minimally viable product, increased market share (or even better, market disruption), and financial growth. The Design Thinking model, as exemplified by Stanford University’s d.school, emphasizes five basic phases of design: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The generic nature of these phases suggests broader application of the process beyond the scope of design sub-disciplines. Similarly, the Business Accelerator model of applied, collaborative, and iterative project execution, goal-setting, and mentorship (as opposed to instruction) reflects processes amenable to any product. This paper and presentation will consider how the technical, broadly applicable, and innovative nature of study in Music Technology lends itself toward the adoption of pedagogical insights and practices available at the intersection of Design Thinking and Business Accelerator models of development. Beyond a theoretical approach to more product-oriented and applied training in Music Technology, the content of this presentation will also include some case-study examples and personal reflections on more and less effective ways to incorporate Design Thinking and entrepreneurial development practices into Music Technology curriculums.


Sean Peuquet is a composer, scholar, and educator based in Colorado. He presents his work regularly at national and international venues for contemporary art and music such as the International Computer Music Conference, Sound and Music Computing Conference, Toronto Electroacoustic Music Symposium, Korean Electro-Acoustic Music Society, Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, Society of Composers, Inc., New York City Electronic Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, and more. He currently serves as Programs Director and Lead Music Instructor at Madelife, an interdisciplinary Creative Accelerator program in Boulder, CO. He is also co-founder of CauseART, which curates and commissions work from living artists for exhibition in local and multinational businesses, including Google. Sean was recently commissioned by Meow Wolf to compose immersive music for their permanent Denver exhibition space, opening in 2021. From 2012 to 2014, he served as Visiting Professor of Digital Arts at Stetson University while completing his PhD in Music Composition at the University of Florida. He received his MA from Dartmouth College and holds a BA from the University of Virginia. His current research interests include generative music, self-reflexive listening practices, and identifying new paths for art as a socio-cultural determinant. His music is available through Ablaze Records and SEAMUS.