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Applied Lesson – MM

Composition is taught in weekly hour-long private lessons and in the weekly Composition Seminar. Graduate composers study with two private teachers over the course of the degree program. 

The department strongly believes that composing is a practical act and that a consistently high production of
music followed by hearing this music in performance is of major benefit to a student composer. Feedback, growth, and assessment depend upon faculty being able to hear and see a student's developing voice and in helping to identify problem areas, habitual weaknesses, and dead ends. For this reason the Applied Lesson carries specific minimum requirements for the student's Portfolio, requirements for performances of their own work, and requirements to ensure frequent exposure to the music being written by their colleagues.


Applied Lesson 1 and 2

MU 585
Fall Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: none
Meeting: one hour weekly
+
MU 586
Spring Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: Applied Lesson 1
Meeting: one hour weekly

Objectives
Taking the student’s individual strengths and needs into account, the Applied Lesson, through a combination of assignments, discussion, and guided work on the student’s in-progress composition, aims to foster increasing skill in creating sustainable large forms and cogent notational practices, and to move with the student toward a coherent musical vision and the beginnings of an individual voice.

Expectations
Students should:
• come to each lesson with new music written or sketched
• check their conservatory email account at least once a day
• respond to instructors’ emails within 24 hours if a response is needed
• follow up on suggested listening and reading before the next lesson

Attendance

• Attendance is required at every lesson 
• Attendance is required at every concert of the CRS (Composer Recital Series)
• Late arrival to a lesson or a concert may be counted as an absence
• Applied Lessons missed due to illness or emergency may, at the discretion of
    the instructor, be made up before the end of the semester
• Two unexcused absences drop the final grade by one letter grade
• Three unexcused absences result in a final grade of F 

Performance Requirements

Minimum requirements for public performances of music by Year 1 MM students are:
• Fall Semester: 5 minutes of new music
• Spring Semester: 10 minutes of new music

Portfolio

Minimum requirements for Year 1 MM student portfolios are:
• Fall Semester: 8 minutes of new music
• Spring Semester: 10 minutes of new music (no Fall Semester work)

Juries

Individual Composition Juries, lasting 15 minutes, are held in the final week of each semester. These provide an opportunity for a student to receive feedback from faculty other than his or her private teacher. They also provide the opportunity for faculty to assess a student's portfolio and to offer observations and suggestions for future direction. Students receive scans of all panel members' written comments after each Jury.

In advance of each jury students submit a portfolio which should consist of:
• pdf scores of all works written or completed during the semester
   (scans of hand-written scores or sketches are acceptable)
• a program note (100 to 400 words) for each submitted new work
• mp3 recordings of all works premiered during the semester

Grading

The final grade for the Applied Lesson rests largely upon an assessment of the student’s growth as a practicing composer, taking into consideration completion of the portfolio and performance requirements. The Applied Lesson grade consists of two components: the private teacher's grade, worth 70%, and the jury grade, worth 30%. 

The Private Teacher grade is calculated from assessment in five areas, each worth 20%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth 
• effort and application

The Jury Grade is calculated from assessment in four areas, each worth 25%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth

Applied Lesson 3 and 4

MU 685
Fall Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: Applied Lesson 2
Meeting: one hour weekly
+
MU 686
Spring Semester
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: Applied Lesson 3
Meeting: one hour weekly

Objectives
Taking the student’s individual strengths and needs into account, the Applied Lesson, through a combination of assignments, discussion, and guided work on the student’s in-progress composition, aims to foster increasing skill in creating sustainable large forms and cogent notational practices, and to move with the student toward a coherent musical vision and the beginnings of an individual voice.

Expectations
Students should:
• come to each lesson with new music written or sketched
• check their conservatory email account at least once a day
• respond to instructors’ emails within 24 hours if a response is needed
• follow up on suggested listening and reading before the next lesson

Attendance

• Attendance is required at every lesson 
• Attendance is required at every concert of the CRS (Composer Recital Series)
• Late arrival to a lesson or a concert may be counted as an absence
• Applied Lessons missed due to illness or emergency may, at the discretion of
    the instructor, be made up before the end of the semester
• Two unexcused absences drop the final grade by one letter grade
• Three unexcused absences result in a final grade of F 

Performance Requirements

Minimum requirements for public performances of music by Year 2 MM students are:
• Fall Semester: 10 minutes of new music
• Spring Semester: 5 minutes of new music
                                   Graduate Recital (45 minutes of music, may include new work)

Portfolio

Minimum requirements for Year 2 MM student portfolios are:
• Fall Semester: 12 minutes of new music
• Spring Semester: 15 minutes of new music (no Fall Semester work)

Juries

Individual Composition Juries, lasting 15 minutes, are held in the final week of each semester. These provide an opportunity for a student to receive feedback from faculty other than his or her private teacher. They also provide the opportunity for faculty to assess a student's portfolio and to offer observations and suggestions for future direction. Students receive scans of all panel members' written comments after each Jury.

In advance of each jury students submit a portfolio which should consist of:
• pdf scores of all works written or completed during the semester
   (scans of hand-written scores or sketches are acceptable)
• a program note (100 to 400 words) for each submitted new work
• mp3 recordings of all works premiered during the semester

Grading

The final grade for the Applied Lesson rests largely upon an assessment of the student’s growth as a practicing composer, taking into consideration completion of the portfolio and performance requirements. The Applied Lesson grade consists of two components: the private teacher's grade, worth 70%, and the jury grade, worth 30%. 

The Private Teacher grade is calculated from assessment in five areas, each worth 20%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth 
• effort and application

The Jury Grade is calculated from assessment in four areas, each worth 25%:
• creativity and originality
• notation: clarity of conveyed intentions
• ability to write effectively for instruments and voices
• progress and growth

 

Graduate Thesis

MU 691
Fall Semester
Credits: 0
Prerequisite: Applied Lesson 2
Meeting: one hour weekly (Applied Lesson 3)

MM composition students are required to complete a Senior Thesis in the Fall Semester of the final year of their program. This should be a substantial work displaying the ability to control large forces over an extended period of time. For MM students the requirement is composition of a single-movement work lasting a minimum of 15 minutes for orchestra or comparable large ensemble.

Although the Graduate Thesis has a separate course number and registration, its composition is undertaken as part of Applied Lesson 3 and guided by the Private Teacher.

 

Oral Comprehensive Exam

All graduating MM students are required to take a pass/fail Oral Comprehensive Exam. The purpose of this exam is to assess how effectively the student is able to integrate knowledge of music history and music theory with his or her own specific discipline. For instrumental and voice majors the panel asks questions arising from the student’s own program notes for the Graduate Recital. Composition students are asked to write program notes for an imaginary recital of any three or four of the year's Listening Assignments.

 

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