Dan Mitchell: Intro to Music
Sunday, January 8, 2012
|A few thoughts about "studying"
I know that many or most of you already understand the following, but I want to make sure that everyone does - since your success in this class is important to me and to you.
As I mentioned earlier this week in class, your success in a course like Music 1A depends on many things. Among the most important factors is setting aside regular time for serious study of the text and your class notes (and in music 1A, for listening to the musical examples, too), and then ensuring that your study is effective.
For many students the first difficulty is time. This is, of course, partly because other things demand your time - work, family, other classes. But it can also be a problem when other things just sound - let's admit it! - a whole lot more fun that spending a couple hours thoroughly ingesting and digesting the material in the text. Focus can be another issue - moving beyond simply reading the text and toward effective study of the material. A few strategies may help, including:
- Rather than sort of planning to get to it... eventually... probably... maybe... if nothing else comes up... set aside specific times on specific days when you will not do anything other than the all-important study work for this class. In other words, make it part of your schedule just like your job and other important responsibilities rather than leaving it to chance.
- As someone who is also subject to procrastination, I understand all to well how easy it is to put off what needs to be done today if there are any more interesting distractions available. When you study, eliminate as many of these distractions as possible - better yet, eliminate all of them. Turn of the cell phone or put it where you cannot see/hear it. Step away from the computer. Go to a place where the TV is not running. Multi-tasking while studying is an almost certain way to decrease the effectiveness of your work.
- Allocate study time in "right size" chunks. Most of us will be unable to work effectively if we try to study for two hours straight. Instead of trying to do all of your studying for one class in one session on one evening, break it up into several smaller sessions spread over several days.
- Be methodical in your studying. It is - and we all know this, right? - not very effective at all to simply "read the book." Few of us will sufficiently retain material that we have simply read once. Some approaches that may be useful include:
- Highlight as you read the text. (This may be helpful, but it is rarely sufficient by itself.)
- Outline the text material as you study it. Converting the material into your own summary in your own words tends to help you internalize and "own" the information.
- Especially for lists of things, vocabulary, and so forth it may be useful to use flash cards.
- Build lists of related subjects in your notes - perhaps you have a list of composer names, types of pieces, etc.
- At the end of each chapter (or smaller section of the text) close the book. Take out a blank piece of paper. Without looking in the book, write down what you recall from the chapter. Now re-open the text and review the chapter to see what you recalled, what you missed, or what you may have misinterpreted. Repeat this process, probably several times.
- Work with a fellow student. Ask one another questions about the material. Write sample test questions and quiz one another.
- Many other possibilities that I have not mentioned.
- Be sure to listen to the musical examples. During the term you will gradually want to develop the ability to hear and recognize pieces, styles, different instrumental and vocal sound sources, and generally "get inside" this music. Two kinds of listening may be useful:
- Attentive, thoughtful, and careful listening - often while following the descriptions in the text - is critical to really understanding the music.
- Just playing the recordings more casually is a very useful adjunct to this - but certainly not sufficient on its own.
- Finally, I expect that you will acquire quite a bit of the important knowledge in this class independent of my in-class presentations. I expect that you will come to class with a basic understanding of study material, and you will be responsible for some material that is covered only in the text and not in class.
|Important: Becoming a web site member
As per the course green sheet, joining the web site is a course requirement, and that you will be unable to access important online course materials until you complete this process. A few important notes about signing up:
- You must provide your real first and last names. (If you sign up without doing so, your membership request will be rejected and you'll have to do it again.)
- Let me know right away if you encounter any problems with this process - I can usually help you resolve them quickly.
- Since I must manually approve all membership requests, it may be a few hours before yours is finalized.
|Welcome to Music 1A!
Here we go!
Thanks for registering for Music 1A: Introduction to Music this quarter. We will get started on class work fairly quickly, so it is critical that you are ready to get to work. I'll discuss this more in class, but here are some things that you need to attend to right away:
As of the day before the start of the term, it appears that there may be a few open seats in each of my Music 1A sections, in which case I can probably add some additional students who attend first-week class meetings. So that I may accommodate students trying to add my classes, I will drop enrolled students who do not attend or who miss or are late to class during the first week. [ Discuss]
- Read the course green sheet - see the link in the sidebar at the right side of the page. The green sheet is a contract between you and me and it outlines many important course policies. The green sheet will continue be available online, and I will not provide printed copies. (You may print your own copy from the web site if you wish.)
- Review the course calendar - see the link in the sidebar. Study assignments, homework, quizzes, tests, reports, and more are listed in the calendar. The calendar should be regarded as an extension of the green sheet. You are responsible for staying up to date with the calendar. (There is work listed in the calendar that must be completed right away. This work includes joining the web site and completing the first-week survey.)
- Review the First week checklist found in the sidebar. It lists a number of important assignments and tasks that you must take care of right away.
- Purchase your text book and accompanying recordings immediately if you have not already done so. You cannot succeed in this class without these materials. Speak to me right away if you must delay purchase beyond this Thursday for any reason.
- Be aware that it is very risky to try to order a book online once the term has started, especially if you are ordering a used copy. In the past students have encountered serious problems when this led to long delays in receiving the book, getting the wrong text, or getting a copy that did not included the required audio recordings.
- Bring note-taking materials to class every day - These include a notebook or binder for this class and writing materials.
- Begin studying this week's study assignment (listed in the calendar) right away.
- Students who add must use add codes immediately - If I give you an add code, you must complete the registration process prior to the next class unless you and I agree otherwise. Students who get an add code and wait to add will be dropped to make room for other students waiting to add.