Music First Assignment Pages

Prerequisite: Music History and Literature II (MU-355) or consent of instructor.

Class Schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9:00 - 9:50 a.m., Thursday, 11:00 - 11:50 a.m. 

Location: Marquis Hall Ray Rehearsal Room, Room 201


  • Eric Salzman, Twentieth-Century Music, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002

  • Handouts for Music of the Twentieth Century, Cedar Rapids, IA:  Privately Published, 2010  (these materials may be downloaded by clicking HERE– or purchased from the instructor for a modest duplication fee)

Reserve Materials:  Supplementary reading, listening, and videotape viewing as assigned.

Special Events:

·    Wozzeck Viewing Party:  Sunday, Sept. 19, 4:00 – 6:00, Dr. Carson’s house (ask for directions).  Chip in $5 for pizza, we provide beverages, chips, dessert.

·         History III Student Recital, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2:00 p.m., Daehler-Kitchin Auditorium. (setup at 1:15), pot-luck reception after

·         Other concert attendance TBA

  • Notebook: A notebook of all course materials is required. When this notebook is turned in at the final exam, it must contain every test, every assignment, every handout, etc., or you will not get credit for them, even though they were submitted earlier in the term. Everything from this class goes in your notebook!  Your notebook must also include notes on the required listening

    Grading: This is a very demanding class, requiring a large amount of preparation outside of class.  The grading scale is high, and there is little room for error.  Approximately one quarter of your grade is based on attendance, one quarter on tests, one quarter on writing and web assignments, and one quarter on your other assignments.  Please see grading details  below .

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    Upon successful completion of this course, the student will have:

    (1)        A basic knowledge of the major works of art music in the twentieth century

    (2)        A basic knowledge of the major composers of art music in the twentieth century

    (3)        A basic knowledge of the major stylistic developments of art music in the twentieth century

    (4)        An increased awareness of different compositional styles

    (5)        A more open attitude toward unfamiliar musical styles

    (6)        An understanding of the interrelationship between different musical genres

    (7)        A structure for making qualitative judgements

    (8)        Opinions based on reason

    (9)        An increased awareness of the presence of twentieth-century music in her or his life


    To demonstrate the above competencies, the student will:

    (1)        Recognize compositions at sight

    (2)        Recognize compositions aurally

    (3)        Answer questions about composers and performers

    (4)        Answer questions concerning stylistic differences

    (5)        Compose exercises for various instruments

    (6)        Listen to and evaluate performances and recordings

    (7)        Analyze musical compositions

    (8)        Perform music in a stylistically appropriate manner

    (9)        Prepare cogent arguments concerning the significance of various musics and musicians

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    Daily in class performance (25%)






    Concert Reviews (5%)






    Tests (15%)






    Final Exam (10%)






    Recital Performance and Program Notes (10%)






    Notebook  (10%)






    *Essays/Web Assignments (10%)






    *Research Paper - rough draft -  hard copy (5%)






    *Research Paper - final draft -  electronic version (10%)






    TOTAL Required Points (100%)


















    Extra Course Meetings






    Extra Concert Reviews






    Perfect Attendance






    TOTAL Points Possible






    Grading Scale:

    900 -  1050 =  A

    850 - 899  =  B

    800 - 849  =  C

    750  - 799  =  D

    0 - 749 =F


    Students who miss ONE test or in class assignment will be allowed to make up their work, but ONLY the FIRST time!
    After that any make up work must be done in the form of extra credit assignments.
    Assignments will lose 25% in value each day that they are late, including weekends and holidays.

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    The Fine Print

    • Daily in class performance: A great portion of the value of this class will come from the lectures and the materials sampled in class.  I could not possibly test you over everything we will discuss in class, nor every musical example I will play for you in class.  I therefore attach great importance to attendance.


    • Concert Reviews: During the course of the semester, as I become aware of them, I will inform you of concerts which include music pertinent to the course. You may select three additional concerts for extra credit from among many opportunities during the term. If you become aware of such a concert, please make sure that I hear about it.  Whether attending a required performance or one for extra credit, the next time the course meets you need to submit a program and a one-page description of the music that pertains to this course. Listen not only for the quality of the performance, but also for how the piece meets your expectations. Compare it to other pieces we have discussed in the course.  Explain how the piece seems similar to and different from other pieces by the same composer or in the same style or genre.  These concerts MAY be used for other classes (recital hour, for example). Please create a separate, labeled section in your notebook for the five required (and any extra-credit) concert reviews.


    • Tests and Final Exam: These tests offer me the opportunity to assess your progress in the listening lab and your attentiveness in class and during your reading sessions.  The tests will include listening questions, and may contain some mixture of multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and/or essay questions.


    •  Recital Performance and Program Notes: 

      Sunday, December 12, at 2:00 p.m., we will present a brief, informal recital of music based on compositional techniques from the late twentieth-century.  Each of you will be required to collaborate on the composition of a piece in the style of one (or more) of the composers whom we have studied (by that point in the term), and perform it as a member of a small ensemble (no groups larger than 6, please, non smaller than 2).  Each piece will require program notes (about one paragraph in length, explaining how the piece is related to the style of the composer(s) they are emulating. You will be responsible for scheduling and preparing the musicians for your own piece, and for preparing all technical requirements.  Your selections - title, composers, performers and their instruments, must be submitted in writing no later than Monday, Oct. 4.  Program notes and a copy of the score will be due on Thursday, Oct. 28.  Sometime between Oct. 29 and Nov. 18 you will need to schedule a ten-minute appointment for me to hear your piece (NO pieces longer than five minutes!).


    • Notebook: See above.


    • Essays/Web-Based Projects: See below about writing assignments.

    Because MU-458 is a Writing Emphasis Course, students who do not earn at least a C (74%) average on the writing portion of the course will not earn a final grade any higher than C, regardless of their scores for the remainder of the course.  


    A hard copy of these materials may be purchased for a copying fee of $2.

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    Music History and Literature III: Music in the Twentieth Century
    Writing Assignments/Web-Based Projects

    MU-458 is a Writing Emphasis Course. Students must earn at least a C (74%) average on the writing portion of the course to ensure a final grade higher than C, regardless of their scores for the remainder of the course.  

  • ·         Wozzeck Viewing Party:  Sunday, Sept. 19, 4:00 – 6:00, Dr. Carson’s house (ask for directions).  Chip in $5 for pizza, we provide beverages, chips, dessert.

    ·         History III Student Recital, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2:00 p.m., Daehler-Kitchin Auditorium. (setup at 1:15), pot-luck reception after

    ·         Other concert attendance TBA

One of my goals for this course is to assist you in the development of critical and persuasive skills in music listening. I know that you will hear new music for decades after completing this course, and you will be some of the musicians who will shape the way we listen to and appreciate music in the rest of this century. For this reason, I consider it important to aid you in the development of skills to help you assess the significance of music and composers, and of the ability to be persuasive in presenting your analysis. This course is also one of the courses where we test your knowledge of computer applications (an NASM requirement), thus the use of web-pages for assignment delivery, email for communication, and the requirement of web-page design.  This is also a writing emphasis course, so we will be working on strengthening and refining your writing skills during the course of the term as well.

Essay #1 - Due: Wednesday, Oct. 6, Essay length:  1000 - 1500 words (50 points)

Most musicologists agree that Bach was the most important composer of the early 18th century, while Mozart dominates the later half. Beethoven's contributions were undeniably significant in the early 19th century, while Wagner and Brahms are often debated as the major figures later in the century (Remember the three B's? Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms?). As we get closer to the present, though, it becomes more difficult to decide which innovations are most important. Your assignment is to do just that: List the three most significant musicians (based on your research and analysis) of the first half of the twentieth century (AFTER Debussy, please). Cite specific compositions and compositional techniques and discuss influences. Then select one of the three and explain why this person is the SINGLE most important musician of the first half of the twentieth century. Begin by writing too much and then editing down to a more reasonable length. In that way, only the most important information will remain in your completed essay. Post your results on the internetand then e-mail me the web address. You do not need to hand any PAPER in (except a marked rough draft and an outline) - I can grade your web site - simply email me your URL Not knowing how to use the web is no excuse. Learn how! I would be glad to have one demonstration day for those of you who have never done this before - we'll figure out a schedule during class. Your site should include a link for sending e-mail to the author, in case we have comments or suggestions. Complete documentation and bibliography are required. This is a writing emphasis course, and you need to read, proofread, and revise your paper. You will be docked one point for every incorrectly spelled word that my spellchecker can catch on this and subsequent writing assignments. You will also be docked for obvious grammar errors. You will find that one of my main criticisms of your writing will be gaps in your logic. Read through your paper, before you submit it, as if you were someone who completely disagreed with the points you are trying to make, and see what holes are present in your argument so that you can remove any objections. Become persuasive and authoritative. Using quotes from impressive sources is good - but when you use a quote - make sure you explain where you got it - you must acknowledge the author in the text and in a footnote. This is not an opinion paper, which might allow first-person writing, but a persuasive paper, which should use formal writing.You must have a rough draft and outline, and these are to be turned in (in hard copy) when the paper is due. You must have a meeting with a Coe Writing Center Consultant before submitting your paper. Document this meeting with a two-paragraph summary and description of the meeting (including date, time, location, who, etc.). All of these rules apply to all of the following writing assignments.



Essay #2 - Due: Wednesday, Nov. 3, Essay length:  1000  - 1500 words

If you thought Essay #1 was hard, now try to make the same evaluation of the second half of the twentieth century -  even before we have discussed it in class!  List the three musicians whom you consider the most significant (they do not have to be someone we discuss in class!). Again, cite specific compositions and techniques and discuss influences.  Choose one of the three and explain why this person is the most important musician of the second half of the century.  Again, begin by writing too much and editing down to a more reasonable length, and post your results on the internet, and provide me with the web address (you have to send the address to me again).

Research Paper based on the first two essays - Rough Draft Due: Thursday, Nov. 18(paper copy only)

Web Pages and Links Due: Monday, Dec. 6 Essay length:  2000 -  3000 words plus bibliography, footnotes and links

And now comes the real challenge - narrowing down from what you wrote earlier, and backing it up:  Discuss the three musicians of the entire twentieth century whose contributions you consider the most significant. (Again, they might not be people we have discussed in class.) In light of our study since the other essays were written, you will need to re-evaluate the positions you took in the first two papers and either select new musicians or explain your reasons for not changing your selections.  For each musician, cite at least three print-media (not internet) sources. At least one of your sources must be no more than five years old.  Our textbook may be used, but does not count among the three sources required for each musician. Use proper footnotes and bibliography forms. I also require that you quote some authors whose opinions support your contentions, or who disagree and need to be refuted. It would surprise me if your conclusions about the second half of the century haven't changed since the second essay was written. I will expect very strong reasons for those of you whose opinions did not change, and in any case I expect your arguments to be different from those you used in the first two papers, and this time they must be even more strongly supported by statements made by experts.  Finally, to finish, select one of the three and explain why this person is the SINGLE most important musician of the twentieth century!  Your rough draft must include your bibliography, but your Web formatting may be done after the rough draft is turned in.  Post your final product on the internet (and e-mail me the URL), including links to at least three sites relating to each of the musicians discussed in your essay.  (see grading chart below)

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Grading final paper


100 points





content and organization









formatting and proper footnotes



3 print sources and source newer than 5






3 links per composer



subtract one point for each misspelled word







Advice for Writing Assignments


Imagine that you are a lawyer trying to prove a case:


  • Don't say anything that might make the other lawyer shout "objection, irrelevant!"  If it doesn't prove your point, don't say it.  Never state a fact (or use a quote) without justifying how it helps prove your point.

  • You can't have an opinion that the person is significant, you need expert witnesses and evidence.  Your opinion doesn't matter -  but a published author's opinion does.

  • You can't use first person because no one cares what you think -  we know you're biased.  We want evidence.

  • You can't say anything that you don't know from first-hand experience without first saying from whom you got the information.

  • Don't use hyperbole -  use facts and quotes.

  • Have someone play the devil's advocate -  where are the holes in your reasoning?  Then find a way of overcoming any possible objections to your conclusion.

  • Like a good lawyer, you should probably start with an opening statement (introduction) and finish with a closing statement (conclusion).  Your opening statement should not only say that you're going to prove your client significant, but how.  Perhaps you should even define what you mean by significant.  At the conclusion you need to summarize how you reached the conclusion and restate the most important evidence or at least refer to the evidence listed previously.

  • Avoid the vernacular. Imagine that your jury has some stuffy old Bostonians in it, and you need a unanimous verdict.  Use language that won't put off anyone.

  • While you might discuss your composers in order of importance, you need to present the case for each composer in chronological order.  No point in describing the murder first, then going back to explain how your client got to the location of the murder.

  • It is doubtful that the composer's birthdate or birthplace will be significant to your case.  Even her or his training is not likely to be relevant.  If you were defending someone accused of murder, would you need to tell the jury where and when she was born?

  • Don't be shy about stating your conclusion.   A good lawyer would say, at the end of a presentation of a series of facts (also known as a paragraph) that "my client is innocent!" You should do the same -  and then have a closing statement that shows the clients innocence and summarizes the facts you presented in earlier paragraphs.


Other advice:

  • Spell out numbers that are lower than 101.

  • Don't use contractions in formal writing.

  • Use "who" or "whom" when referring to people, use "that" when referring to non-humans.

  • Don't use very.  It's a very weak word.  Your sentence is almost always just as strong without it.

  • Always double-check any information you get from Wikipedia -  anyone can write an article on Wikipedia!

  • Don't split infinitives


The quote in the background, ""Life Without Music Would be a Mistake," is from  by Friedrich Nietzche

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Assignments can be created from repertoire found in the SmartMusic catalog under Find Music. Every assignment you create is saved as a template, which you can either assign right away or assign later. Your assignment templates are saved under My Assignment Templates on the Home page.  Read the steps below to learn how to create assignments.

Jump to:

Step 1: find and select the music.

To create an assignment from repertoire found in the SmartMusic catalog, find the title under Find Music. More information on finding music can be found in this article. Select the title and click Assign. The Movement drop-down menu appears. Select the movement you would like to assign, and click Assign

Step 2: add the general information for the assignment.

The Let's Set Up Your Assignment page of the Assigner appears, where you can name your assignment, select an assignment type, and enter general instructions for the assignment. Click on the Select An Assignment Type drop-down menu to choose either a Predefined Assignment (if available for that title) or a Custom Assignment.

Step 3: setup the assignment parameters for the various parts.

On the Customize Your Parts page, select an instrument from the left panel. The instructional elements and music for that part appear. In the music, you can drag the starting and ending points to define the assignment location. Alternatively, you can enter the starting and ending bars and beats under Location. You can also zoom, change pages, and playback your selection.

Click Tempo. The Tempo (BPM) drop-down menu appears, where you can select Exactly or At Least the required tempo for the assignment. Choose Any if you do not want to set a required tempo. 

Click here to learn how to create a sight-reading or a sight-singing assignment.

If you'd like to provide any instructions to students that are assigned that part, you can enter them into the text box below.  

If you want to copy instructional elements from this part to one or more other parts, click on Copy underneath the currently selected instrument's name in the Instrument Panel. Select the parameters you want to copy in the Elements drop-down menu (choose All to automatically select all instructional elements for copying). Select the parts you'd like to copy these instructional elements to in the Part drop-down menu. Select Copy And Close to copy your selected instructional elements from this part to your selected other parts.

Click Save Part when you are finished with the selected part. All saved parts have a green circle next to them in the Instrument Panel. All parts that need to be reviewed or that you have skipped have an orange circle next to them in the Instrument Panel. When you are finished with the parts, click .  

Step 4: create a grading rubric for the assignment.

Build the grading rubric for your assignment in the Create Your Rubric page. If you want SmartMusic to automatically provide an assessment grade for each student, mouse over the Assessment Grade criterion and click Add To Rubric

Once the Assessment Grade criterion has been added, the Grade This Assignment Automatically checkbox appears. This option is available when an assignment is only being graded on the Assessment Grade criterion. When Grade This Assignment Automatically is selected, the assignment is automatically graded according to the computer-based assignment score. This grade appears immediately in the Gradebook. When an assignment is past due, it is automatically graded as a zero. You can modify the grade at any time in the Gradebook. When Grade This Assignment Automatically is deselected, an assessment grade is still automatically generated but you'll need to follow the steps in the Grading article to confirm the grade. 

Additional criteria can be added to grade an assignment like Recording, Dynamics, and Articulations. New criteria is not automatically assessed but the grading criteria is customizable. To create new criteria that can be added to the rubric for this assignment and future assignments, click . A description appears. Here, you can add the criterion title and the description of what the student is being rated on for that criterion.  

You can also add multiple levels to a criterion. Click Multiple to create a multi-level criterion. Each level awards a percentage of the total points for that criterion. After you fill out the information for one level, click Add New Level to add another.  

Once you are satisfied with your criterion's description, click Save Criterion to save your changes. If you need more information on an existing criterion, or need to make an edit to its description, mouse over the criterion under the My Criteria column and click Edit. When you are finished building your grading rubric, enter the number of points possible for each criterion you've added to your rubric. The points are automatically totaled up. Click  when finished.

Step 5: choose whether to assign now, or save it for later.

The Template Created window appears. Click Yes, Assign Now if you want to assign it to your students now, or click Not Now to save the template for later and return to the Home page. If you chose to assign later, you can do so from the Home page by mousing over the Assignment Template and selecting Assign.

Step 6: select a class and the assignment dates.

The Assign To Your Students page appears. Select a class from the Class drop-down menu. Classes without defined grading calendars appear with a  icon. If you are connected to more than one SmartMusic platform, make sure to select the desired platform in the first drop-down menu.

If you have selected a class without a defined grading calendar, click Define Now to open the Class Details and define a grading calendar. Click Refresh when finished. 

If you would like to assign the same assignment and parameters to multiple classes, use the Class drop-down menu to select another class. 

Choose the Assign To Students On and Due On dates and times either by selecting the calendar icons or by typing into the fields. A message appears below the fields, telling you what grading period the assignment will be included in. If you have not yet created a Grading Calendar that establishes the grading periods for your class, you need to do so before you can assign anything. Click here to learn how to create a Grading Calendar.

If a due date is outside the defined grading calendar, a message appears. Adjust the date or edit the grading calendar. 

If you'd like to allow your students to submit the assignment past the due date, select Allow Late Submissions and choose the date and time you'd like to allow late submissions until. If you'd like students that enroll late to automatically receive this assignment as well, leave Include Late Enrolled Students selected. This feature is only available for current assignments. If a student enrolls in your class after the assignment's due date they will not automatically receive this assignment. To assign this task to all students, select Assign To All Students.

Click  when you are finished.

A window appears letting you know the task was successfully assigned to your students. Click I'm Done to go back to your Home page.

Once it is the date and time you chose for the Assign To Students On field, your students will be able to access your assignment from their Home page by following these steps.

Optional: If you chose Assign To Some Students instead, a list of students for your selected class or classes appears. Select the students you want to assign the task to and click the Save button to finish assigning the task to those students.

A confirmation message appears. Click Ok

The Assign To Your Students screen reflects your new changes. If you would like to select additional students or deselect students, click (_ Selected / _ Total). Click  when you are finished.


Learn how to grade any assignments your students submit by following the instructions in our Grading article.

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