PROJECT: MUSIC AND IDENTITY
During the course of the project you will reflect on the role of music in your life, choose the pieces you want to include and then determine why you are drawn to these particular pieces and what they say about your identity.
STEP ONE: THINK!
Think about what role music plays in your life. Do you listen to music often or infrequently? Do you tend to listen at some times, certain occasions/situations, during certain activities? Are there pieces or performers who are you secretly like very much but don’t mention to others because of what they might think? Think about the genres, artists, and songs you listen to most often. Do some of your friends and family share these same musical interests and does this influence/inform your choices.
You will want to write down a minimum of 1-2 paragraphs of observations as you think about these questions.
STEP TWO: CHOOSE YOUR MUSIC
Choose 6 (six) pieces that you believe say something about/represent some aspect of your identity. 3 (three) are to be chosen from your own collection of music and 3 (three) will be chosen from any of the composers or pieces we’ve studied this semester.(Note: The three from this semester need to be art music pieces, not simply pop pieces played by classically trained musicians like Two Cellos or the Piano Guys. Sometimes I post videos by these types of artists solely to demonstrate that classically trained musicians can and do play genres other than art music.) Begin by choosing 3 favorites from your own collection. I use the word “favorites”, but the choices need to be made for a reason beyond simply, “Oh, I just like this one”. It’s fine to choose a favorite piece, BUT ask yourself WHY you love this piece so much. What does it say to you? What does it say about you/your personality? E.g. Maybe it takes you back to a certain place/time. Maybe you remember the first time you heard it. Maybe it reminds you of someone. Maybe it makes you feel a certain way. What does it represent to you? Are there certain parts that are most significant than others in the piece? Is this something you listen to alone or with others? Is this a “guilty pleasure” piece? Etc…
After you choose the first 3 pieces from your collection and reflect on how they represent you/your identity, it will be easier to choose 3 from the music we’ve covered in this course. Hopefully, some of the composers or pieces we are studying this semester appealed to you. If you happen to have a piece by some other art music composer we didn’t study (like Grieg, Sibelius, Schutz, or countless others) you may use it but make certain it is truly considered an art music (often referred to as “classical music” composer/composition). If you are in doubt, just ask. Once you’ve chosen the three pieces, ask yourself the same questions you did regarding the first 3 you chose from your own collection. IE What about these latter 3 pieces attracted you to them? What do they say about you? Did you choose some for the same reasons you listen to your favorite music? Do you see common threads in how you choose the music you prefer.
STEP THREE: WRITE
Take steps 1 and 2 and put them on paper. You may want to begin with an introductory paragraph about what genre/artist(s) you listen to most and what music means to you and in your life. Next, include the songs you chose and write a bit about why you chose each one. Again, refer to the questions I posed in step 2. You don’t have to answer EVERY question for each piece. They are just suggestions. As you have pondered your musical choices, you’ll know why you chose each piece and can offer a brief synopsis of why.
Formatting your writing:
There should be an introductory paragraph(s). This should include information about the role of music in your life rather than vague generalizations about how important music is to “everyone”.
You should include the information/commentary on each piece in a separate paragraph for clarity. Each piece should be contained in a separate paragraph. E.g. Six pieces = six paragraphs. Really explore what draws you to each piece. Again, avoid vague descriptions such as “it has a nice beat”. If you are choosing a piece to represent who you are as an individual, there must be some depth and connection with it. Explore this. .
There should be a concluding/summary paragraph(s). And, once more, AVOID random comments and generalizations. What did you learn about your musical preferences after having worked on this project. How did your preference for the first three pieces help in determining the last three pieces you selected from the course. Do you see commonalities/similarities? (Maybe you chose all vocal pieces? Or all instrumental pieces? Maybe they all contained trumpet? Maybe they all conveyed a certain mood?) Explore this.
Hopefully, this project will make you use your critical thinking skills in regard to music in ways which, perhaps, you’ve not done in the past. At the very least, it should reveal some things to you about your musical preferences. This should be treated as a full length paper that might be written for an English (or any other!) course. Projects hastily thrown together at the last minute are glaringly obvious, and your grade will reflect this.
**A FEW SUGGESTIONS: Music is personal (like everything, really), but you don’t have to go into intimate detail with name, places, etc. if you feel uncomfortable sharing especially personal details. Additionally, if you want to include links to YouTube or some other site which contains a piece (s) you chose, you can feel free to do that within the text of your writing.
STEP FOUR: SHARE
Submit your project via ASSIGNMENTS on Canvas. You can type your paper in WORD and just copy/paste it if you wish or you can attach the file. There will be a Music and Identity thread on the discussions page, so you can share your lists of the pieces you chose with others and include YouTube links if you wish. That way, we can all share the music we enjoy and, hopefully, discover new music.
Grading: The project will be worth 26 points:
Your introduction (gleaned from Step 1) = 4 points
6 Song Choices with Your Commentary (from Step 2) = 18 points
Your Conclusion (gleaned from Step 3) = 4 points.