How to Succeed in a Music Class

Welcome! I hope you’re excited for a semester of good music and great discussion. I’ve put together this document on how to get through the term, and do well in the course. Some commonly asked questions are addressed here, so make sure you read the whole thing before you start sending emails!


“I don’t know anything about music. Can I still take this class?”
Yes, of course. It might seem like we’re talking neuroscience and quantum physics sometimes, but if you pay attention and ask questions when you’re confused, you’ll realize there aren’t too many musical terms to know in order to do well here. We’ll go through them all, in detail, and keep using them over the whole semester. You’ll come out of the class with an impressive vocabulary to be deployed with style at your next dinner party.
*A list of terms and how to use them are posted on D2L.*

“Your class is full. Can you open up a spot for me?”
No, I can’t. The registrar does not allow me to overload classes. Hang in there and watch the waiting list on RAMSS – most students eventually get a spot. Meanwhile, attend class! Lots of important information comes to you in the first couple weeks of lectures.

“Do I have to buy a textbook?” (For MUS 505)
No, but you have to read it. There are reserve copies in the library and lots of used, cheaper copies around. Make sure you start reading the textbook early.

“I have an accommodations letter. How should we deal with it?”
Once you send me your accommodations through the clockwork system, I will have a copy on hand. You can ask me about extended deadlines or test centre tests, and we will make the appropriate arrangements. Listening tests can be done in the test centre. Be sure to book your tests with enough time for me to get the exam to them.

“Do we have an exam in the final exam period?”

“I’m worried about the listening quizzes.”
Don’t. We will go through all the songs on the list, and how to analyze them, in class. You’ll be well prepared for the quiz. All songs are played from the beginning, and all songs are played twice. You’ll have plenty of time to write.

“I missed a test/quiz.”
If you have documentation (a doctor’s note or equivalent), you will be permitted a makeup test in the test centre. You must contact me immediately regarding a missed test.
There are no makeup exams in office hours.

“I would like an A in this class.”
Good for you! That’s ambitious. You can do it.
A students:
·      Attend all classes, even if they’re tired.
·      Listen in class.
·      Do not have social media sites, YouTube, gambling/shopping sites open on their computers. In fact, many A students write their notes by hand.
·      Download the powerpoints before class and fill them in with information delivered during lecture.
·      Speak up during discussion, but do not dominate. A students are respectful of others and maintain a civil, positive environment in class.
·      Listen to musical examples outside of class.
·      Do all the readings.
·      Do all the reading quizzes.
·      Hand all assignments in, on time.
·      Ask for help when they don’t understand.
·      Come to office hours to talk about studying and assignments.
·      Prepare in advance for tests and assignments by using the materials posted on D2L.
·      Carefully research their essays.
·      Follow the format guidelines for assignments.
Most of all...
A students are curious! They’re excited to learn, happy to be in university. They enjoy the class and ask questions.

 “It’s the end of the term, and I don’t have an A. I would like one. Will you assign me extra credit work?”
No. This gives you an unfair advantage over the other students. How would you explain to them that you deserve that advantage? Under no circumstances will extra credit work be assigned.

“I forgot to do a reading quiz.”
Don’t worry about it. Try to do most of them. Reading quizzes amount to 0.8-1.5% of your grade each. This is not the end of the world.
Do you know how much your essay is worth? 35%! Work on that instead.

“Why do you make us do so much reading?”
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not because I’m a jerk. Sometimes we can’t talk about everything, or everyone, in class. So the readings fill out what we missed. Or they illustrate the big themes we’re talking about that week.
Reading makes you a stronger communicator and helps you better understand the material. And I’ve given you what I think are the best readings on the subject because I want to pique your curiosity. Enjoy them! Don’t dread them.

“I don’t know how to write a music essay.”
That’s why I sit in office hours every week: to be available to help you. Come visit.
We’re also going to run music writing workshops this term. Dates will be posted on D2L. Attending these workshops will help your writing overall.

“Why won’t you answer my email?”
It’s probably because the answer to your question is in the online materials or course syllabus. Read through them to see if it’s there. If not, give me 48 hours to respond to your email.

“Why are you such a slow marker?”
Definitions of “slow” vary from person to person.
Tests and quizzes are graded within one week.
Podcasts are graded in 2-3 weeks.
Essays are generally graded in 2 weeks.
Late essays are graded last, and may take up to 4 weeks.
Participation marks will be tallied at the end of term.

“Can I send you YouTube links or articles about music?”
Yes, always! Sometimes those will be brought into lecture for everyone.

“Why don’t you like Drake?”
Because he’s a total whiney bummer. Listen to Janelle Monae instead: she’s fun.