General overview

A loosely-structured seminar discussion is the typical format of upper-level undergraduate courses as well as all graduate work (masters and doctoral level). The point of a seminar discussion is precisely that: to discuss. In the process of discussing, you are forced to clarify what you think by articulating your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner, and at the same time you learn from the wide array of perspectives and experiences that your peers bring into the conversation. The discussion may organically move to unexpected topics, but the main takeaway from a learning experience like this one is that all of your knowledge and resources are related—there is no such thing as a separation of academic subjects when you really approach a topic critically. Your familiarity with the assigned material, your own initiative in doing additional research, and your engagement with each other is what will make for an effective and enjoyable class.

How to prepare for this project:

  1. Read the rest of this post, read as much of the linked web pages as possible (read multiple times, take notes, reflect on it—in other words, do what we do in class on your own).
  2. Refer to notes you’ve taken in class over the course of the semester, past lecture slides, and previous Online Discussions to make sure you’re correctly understanding as many concepts as possible. Read additional sources as necessary to ensure that you know what you’re talking about with this topic.
  3. Prepare thoughts, questions, and ideas that you have about the topic. These can approach the topic from any and all angles—make use of the various brainstorming methods we’ve undertaken in class, and draw upon your outside knowledge, expertise, and experiences.

Be ready to have a rich, engaging, and involved discussion with each other as an entire class. Ask each other questions. Offer comments. Respond to each other. I will not participate in this discussion.


This project: May 22/23, 2018

In Online Discussion #4, we learned about “musicking,” or the idea that many skills, tasks, and people participate in the process of music. This semester, you’ve stepped into many musical roles: you’ve been singers, percussionists, composers, musicologists, and audience members. And, you’ve learned about other things people do in the world of music: orchestral auditions, being an ensemble member, ethnomusicology, psychology, sociology, and music criticism.

For your final in-class project, you’ll be designing a concert series (5 concerts over the course of a season). You and your classmates in your section of Mu 101 will take on the role of an “Artistic Board of Directors”—the people behind the scenes who make programming decisions, book artists, and make sure the artistic work in a series or festival is interesting, coherent, marketable.

To prepare for this project, there are two kinds of resources you should read and think about: (1) what an artistic board/director does, and (2) the basis for the decisions you’ll make together as a class.

(1) What an artistic director or artistic board does. Read descriptions of the kinds of things an artistic board or an artistic director does. What kinds of skills do they need? What kinds of challenges do they face?

  • Examples of artistic director job descriptions: here, here, and here
  • Descriptions of concert series: here, here, here, and here
  • Previous semesters’ final discussions may also contain information you find helpful to understand the how of music’s behind-the-scenes world: here and here

(2) Decisions about music programming are often mission-driven or values-driven. Refer back to the body of work you and your classmates (i.e., your Artistic Board) have created this semester that collectively reveal your values and perspectives: your creative writing, your in-class writing and group projects, but also your Student Blog Posts (H2, H3, L3), Course Intro Essays (H2, H3, L3), and ideas that came up in the Online Discussions. You may also find the reflective work you did as you prepared your Course Response Essay to be a helpful starting place. [N.B., In all of your formal writing this semester, you’ve been practicing the skill that this task asks of you: looking for overarching themes and connections across a lot of pieces of information—this time, you’re using your class’ entire body of work as your guide!]

  • Examples of vision statements or mission statements from artists and concert series: here, here, and here

In the class discussion, you’ll use your individual preparation to hash out the details of your concert series together as a group:

(1) What your collective vision is for this concert series?

(2) Develop a method or set of criteria for selecting your artists/pieces of music

(3) Make a set of marketing decisions (e.g., venue, ticket prices, who you want to attend/who you would market this concert series to, etc.)

Beyond that, where this project goes and what it entails is up to you—just be ready for last-minute “curve balls” as your discussion progresses!



You’ll be graded for your thoughtful, teamwork-driven discussion participation and for the writing that you produce as a result of that discussion. Your grade will come equally from your discussion participation (50%) and your writing (50%).

The discussion

If you do not participate in the discussion, do not contribute to the assigned topic, or are not present for any part of the discussion, you cannot earn points on this portion of your grade.

The better your contributions to the class discussion, the more points you will earn (and the more prepared you’ll be to produce a thoughtful piece of writing). You will be graded on the quality of your contributions to the class discussion, meaning that the answers to the following questions are “Yes”:

  • Are you prepared for the discussion? Have you read the assigned web pages? Have you done additional reading (as necessary) that allows you to have a reasonable baseline of knowledge about the topic?
  • Are you demonstrating knowledge (rather than ignorance) of the course material and technical vocabulary, and are you drawing from past discussions we’ve held in class and online?
  • Are you contributing to the class discussion in a meaningful way? Are you offering new insight that no one else has adding? Are your contributions compelling and interesting rather than vague, superficial, or cliché? Are you building upon what other people have said rather than ignoring them?


Your writing prompt will be distributed in class at the end of the discussion. It will ask you to communicate about the content of this concert series to an outsider, and you will be able to choose from a selection of possible prompts (e.g., as a composer would describe their new work to be premiered in this series, as a marketing person would advertise to someone who might buy a ticket, as a concert organizer would speak to and welcome people sitting in the venue in attendance, as the artistic board would communicate to another musician and persuade them to join this project, etc.).

You will be graded on the quality of your writing, meaning that the answers to the following questions are “Yes”:

  • Does your writing draw upon the content of your class discussion in a meaningful and thoughtful way?
  • Does your writing demonstrating knowledge (rather than ignorance) of the course material and technical vocabulary?
  • Does your writing convey enthusiasm for the topic at hand, pay attention to details, and vividly capture the perspective of the artistic board of directors?


I look forward to being a fly on the wall for your discussion!

-Dr. J.



2 thoughts on “Final discussion, Spring 2018

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s