Final Project

Note: Due to the pandemic and its effects on everyone’s time and productivity, I have amended many requirements of the final project to simplify your process.

Your final project is an analysis of piece of your choosing. The purpose of the project is for you to apply the skills you’ve learned in class, to a piece that you enjoy and want to share with the rest of the class.

To simplify this project for our compromised semester, rather than doing both, you may choose to do either 1) a video presentation or 2) a paper as your final project. The analytical goals are the same, so just choose whichever format you think allows you to best present your ideas.

Due dates are as follows:

  • Apr 29: Project worksheet
  • May 6: First draft deadline
  • May 9: Peer review deadline
  • May 13: Early deadline, for detailed feedback
  • May 18: Final deadline, limited feedback

This project is the capstone project of the course, and is worth 35% of your final grade. The purpose is to demonstrate what you learned in our seminar by performing your own creative analysis of piece of your choosing. The paper will be an expanded (at least twice as long) and refined version of your presentation.

Content

This is a music analysis project. Some additional requirements and guidelines:

  • Your music analysis must rely on and deeply engage with the analytical approaches we learned in class. This is the most important aspect of this project, and therefore worth the most points in the rubric.
  • Your project should be bound together with a thesis statement of some kind, i.e., some kind of central feature that you discovered while analyzing the piece. 
  • The vast majority of your project should be music analysis. If historical context directly enhances your central music-analytical thesis, then you may include it. Otherwise, restrict your biographical information to one paragraph/one minute. Including extra information beyond this does not help your grade in any way—it’s just extra.
  • You should have chosen at least three aspects of the piece to focus on as examples which prove your thesis statement. 
  • Avoid qualitative language and irrelevant personal experience. The purpose of this paper is to show your understanding of the piece and the analytical techniques used, not to convince someone else to like the piece. 
  • Your tone and focus should be extremely similar to the readings we did throughout class. You might like to view my sample paper as a guide. 

Length

Video option

  • Your video should be at least 15 minutes, but no more than 20. 
  • Time includes musical examples (within reason).

Essay option

  • Your paper should be at least 8 pages, but no more than 13. 
  • Page counts include musical examples (within reason).

If the length is causing you issues, please talk with me and I’ll help you expand or condense your paper as needed. 

Style

  • You must properly cite all authors whose techniques you use. 
  • This is not a research paper, so you should really only be citing people we discussed in class. 
  • You should have a bibliography at the end, even if it includes only one source.
  • Use Chicago or MLA format for your citations, whichever you are more familiar with.
  • Proofread carefully.

Additional requirements for papers:

  • 1” margins; professional 12 point font, such as Times; double-spaced.
  • Add a header with your name, the class, and the date you submitted it.
  • Add page numbers.

Video grading rubric

  proficientbasicpoor
Analysis (60 points total)Thesis statement (10)Clearly presented, well-formed, interesting. (10)Clearly presented, well-formed, but not interesting. (7)Unclear thesis statement or poor thesis statement. (5)
Examples
(10)
3 or more specific examples, analyzed in detail. (10)3 specific examples, but sometimes superficial analysis. (7)Less than 3 specific examples. Not detailed enough. (5)
Methodology (30)Analysis relies on and deeply engages with a methodology learned in the course. (30)Methodology is clearly referenced but is not executed properly, or could use a more in-depth treatment. (20)Methodology is  mentioned but not really used. (10)
Support
(10)
Analysis supports thesis statement. (10)Relationship between analysis and thesis statement is implied but not made clear enough. (7)Relationship btw. analysis and thesis statement is often unclear. (3)
Style 
(40 points total)
Visuals (15)Visuals are professional, well organized, useful, and easy to follow. (15)Visuals are somewhat helpful but need more clarity or more polishing. (12)Visuals are difficult to follow and unpolished. (7)
Speaking (10)Presentation is rehearsed, voice is clear. No long pauses (>4 sec.). Unneccessary or unneeded parts of the video have been edited/removed. (10)Could use more rehearsal, as evident from stumbling over words or long pauses, but overall the point is communicated. (7)Seems unprepared or improvised, language and points are unclear. The video has long pauses and unnecessary content. (3)
Organization (15)Clear flow to the video. Easy for the audience to remember your main points. Time used efficiently. (15)Flow and main points can be discerned but the audience must work to find them. Time used efficiently. (12)Video is poorly sequenced and main points are lost. Video is too short or too long. (7)

Essay grading rubric

  proficientbasicpoor
Analysis (60 points total)Thesis statement (10)Clearly presented, well-formed, interesting. (10)Clearly presented, well-formed, but not interesting. (7)Unclear thesis statement or poor thesis statement. (5)
Examples
(10)
3 or more specific examples, analyzed in detail. (10)3 specific examples, but sometimes superficial analysis. (7)Less than 3 specific examples. Not detailed enough. (5)
Methodology (30)Analysis relies on and deeply engages with a methodology learned in the course. (30)Methodology is clearly referenced but is not executed properly, or could use a more in-depth treatment. (20)Methodology is  mentioned but not really used. (10)
Support
(10)
Analysis supports thesis statement. (10)Relationship between analysis and thesis statement is implied but not made clear enough. (7)Relationship between analysis and thesis statement is often unclear. (3)
Citation (10 points total)In-text citations (5)All sources are properly cited in the essay. (5)Sources are cited in the essay, but with improper formatting. (3)No citations in the essay. (0)
Bibliography (5)A complete bibliography of sources is provided. (5)A complete bibliography of sources is provided, but with improper formatting. (3)Bibliography is incomplete. (0)
Style 
(30 points total)
Spelling and grammar (15)Overall good English grammar and spelling. Written in an academic tone. (15)Occasional grammar or spelling errors or instances of overly casual tone. (12)Many grammar/spelling errors and/or  inappropriate tone. (7)
Organization (15)Argument is easy to follow and the main points are easy to remember. Writing is clear and efficient. (15)Flow and main points can be discerned but the reader must work to find them. (12)The argument is hard to discern. Paper is too short or too long. (7)

First draft and Peer Review

By April 29, you will submit a draft of your final project by uploading it to Blackboard.

I will evaluate you using the final paper rubric for informational purposes only. Your first draft will get an A or B depending on the degree to which you seem to be on the right track. This will be 15% of your final grade.

Peer review

After receiving everyone’s first drafts, I will assign everyone one project to review.

The peer review process is intended to mimic the process of reviewing an article for a journal. In addition to this practical experience, the review process should help you learn to pinpoint similar issues in your own work, and will allow you to get feedback from multiple perspectives (not just mine).

Content

In your review, you will answer each of the following prompts in a Google Form which I will provide:

  1. In your own words, and without re-watching the video or re-reading the paper, do your best to summarize the main points of the proejct. This will do two things: 1) help the author identify any discrepancies between what they thought they were saying, and what they seem like they are actually saying, and 2) help the author understand where you are coming from with your following comments.
  2. What was the most effective part of this analysis? In other words, where did the analysis make you hear something differently, understand the piece better, or convince you of the argument?
  3. Everything in your final project should relate clearly back to the thesis statement. Was there any point at which you weren’t sure why the information was being presented? 
  4. The first draft is probably shorter than the final draft will be. In light of that, name one or two areas where you think the author can slow down, explain more, or go more in depth, to make the paper longer and more effective.
  5. Pose one analytical question to the author, and explain how you would suggest answering that question. The author may think this is a good idea/question, and end up answering it when expanding their analysis for the final draft!

Please don’t hesitate to provide honest feedback. Your feedback will not impact the scores that I give to the draft.

Grading

Your feedback will be graded on completion and counted as a homework grade.


Project Submission

  • Final deadline: May 18, 11:59 pm. This is near the very end of the exam period and unfortunately I cannot extend it futher.
  • Early deadline: May 13, 11:59 pm. If you submit your project by this date, I will have extra time to devote to giving you detailed helpful feedback on your paper.
  • The project will be submitted to me on Blackboard. 
  • If you are submitting a paper, submit as a .pdf file. 

Helpful tips

  • Meet with me one-on-one to improve your project! Students who meet with me always end up with better projects than students who do this on their own. I write a lot and have worked in a writing center, so I have a lot of wisdom about writing to share with you.
  • Begin your project by analyzing the music. Make your musical examples. Then, begin writing the paper by explaining your analysis. Write down the “low-hanging fruit” first to get the ball rolling so you’re not staring at a blank Word document.
  • If writing a paper: read your paper out loud to another human being before you submit it. This is the fastest way to find weird grammatical errors that you made.
  • Words and phrases to avoid: very, it, interesting, unique, thing, genius, “it is ___ that,” “some say,” “I believe,” “it seems.” Maybe also “to be.”