Masters Comprehensive Exams

DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF DEPARTMENTAL MASTER OF MUSIC COMPREHENSIVE REVIEWS AND EXAMINATIONS


APPLIED PROGRAMS: INSTRUMENTAL AND VOICE

Collaborative Piano

Masters of Music candidates in the Collaborative Piano Department will be required to undergo a 30‐minute oral examination administered by the chair of the department and one other faculty member. The examination must take place no earlier than the third semester of study, and no later than the sixth week of the fourth and final semester of study. Topics to be presented by the candidate will include all repertoire from both MM degree recitals, as well as general questions regarding vocal, duo instrumental sonata, and chamber music repertoire, to be posed by the faculty panel.

Historical Performance

MM candidates in historical performance, besides preparing two degree recitals, which are given only after the recital permission jury has been passed by the faculty, will complete an oral comprehensive review of approximately 30 minutes’ duration, not sooner than the end of three semesters of study and not later than the end of the fourth and final semester. Administered by the Department Chair and one other faculty member, this oral review will be based upon the solo, chamber, orchestral, opera and/or oratorio literature of the historical periods of the candidate’s studies. Candidates will be expected to converse on issues of performance practice, organology as it may pertain to their studies, and the historical context of the literature under question. MM candidates may and are certainly encouraged to use their individual degree recitals and projects as the origin of this oral review.

Piano

The MM Comprehensive Examination will be given to all students enrolled in this degree program during the final semester of study. This will be a written examination, one hour in duration, and will include questions regarding the piano repertoire, analysis, and a listening test. The examination will be administered and evaluated by department faculty. Candidates will be expected to supply short answers and essays on composers of selected works, historical events influencing the works, implications for performance style, and technical issues in the repertoire.

Strings and Harp

MM candidates, in addition to preparing two degree recitals, which are given only after the recital‐permission jury has been passed by the string faculty, will complete a one‐hour written comprehensive review not sooner than the end of three semesters of study and not later than the end of the final semester of studies. The review will be administered and evaluated by string department faculty. Lasting approximately one hour, this written review will cover areas of string pedagogy, literature, and performance practice, and will include questions specific to repertoire studied and/or performed during the MM study. Candidates will be expected to supply short answers and essays on composers of selected works, historical events influencing the works, implications for performance style, and technical issues in the repertoire. MM candidates will be expected to demonstrate familiarity with a broad range of repertoire for their instrument in solo, chamber music, and orchestral settings, and the ability to create sample programs appropriate for varied levels of accomplishment.

Voice

MM candidates in Voice, besides preparing the degree recital, which is given only after the recital permission/jury has been passed by the voice faculty, will complete an oral comprehensive review not sooner than the end of three semesters of study and not later than the end of the fourth and final semester of vocal studies. The review will be administered by at least two faculty members of the voice department, and will be no more than thirty minutes in duration. This oral review will be based upon candidate’s studies in solo vocal literature, opera and/or oratorio of the different periods. Candidates will be expected to converse on poets and their writing styles (themes, structure and form of poetry), librettists, composers’ song writing style (vocal and piano) as it pertains to their selected works, historical events influencing these vocal works, singing exponents of the particular composer’s works, and so forth. Candidates may also be asked to discuss technical issues associated with their repertoire.  MM candidates are certainly encouraged to, and may use their individual degree recitals and roles performed as the origin of this oral review. The repertoire under consideration should be thoroughly researched.

Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion

MM candidates, in addition to preparing two degree recitals, will complete a one‐hour written comprehensive review during the final semester of studies. This written review will cover the areas of pedagogy, literature, and performance practice, and will include music studied and/or performed during the MM study. The review will be administered and evaluated by department faculty. MM candidates will be expected to supply short answers on composers of selected works, historical events influencing the works, implications for performance style, and technical issues in the repertoire. They will also be expected to demonstrate familiarity with a broad range of repertoire for their instrument in solo, chamber music, and orchestral settings, along with the ability to create sample programs appropriate for various levels of proficiency.


APPLIED PROGRAMS: CONDUCTING

Choral Conducting

The choral conducting major will successfully complete one full recital (or two half‐recitals) with an approved ensemble. As a part of the final project, the conductor is required to submit written materials that function as a comprehensive review. The document is usually presented in the final semester of study, but must precede approval for graduation. The document is to contain the following items:

1)     A repertoire list of all music performed to satisfy the recital requirement. Repertoire for the recital is chosen in consultation with the major professor.

2)     A structural and harmonic analysis of all the music performed on the recital(s).

3)     Word for word translations of the texts sung, with the correct IPA symbols for each of the texts.

4)     Rehearsal notes for each work. The student may submit evaluative commentary after each rehearsal or rehearsal preparation notes, or both.

5)     An essay placing each composition in the context of the composer’s output and describing the challenges for the conductor in preparing and performing the composition.

6)     A recording of the performance. Video is required.

Orchestral Conducting

MM candidates, besides preparing and presenting the degree recital (for which every aspect of the recital is carried out by the student, from programming the appropriate repertoire, acquiring the orchestral parts, paying for any orchestral parts that require renting, photocopying as necessary [and legal], editing and marking parts, securing and re‐securing the volunteer ensemble, arranging rehearsal spaces, writing program notes, setting up chairs and stands, rehearsing the material, to conducting the performance), will complete a written examination, lasting one hour. This examination will address practical aspects of the orchestra and its instruments (transpositions, string harmonics, ranges of instruments, bowings, orchestration, etc.), the historical evolution of the orchestra, and standard orchestral repertoire. It will be given in the fourth semester of study.
ACADEMIC/RESEARCH PROGRAMS

Composition

An oral review for each MM candidate will be administered by the department during the final semester of study and after the thesis is completed. A minimum of three members of the composition faculty will comprise the panel. Approximately one hour in duration, the review is in two parts: a) a defense of the candidate’s masters’ thesis and b) questions similar to a doctoral exam by which the candidate should demonstrate a broad range of knowledge in composition and related fields such as music theory and critical issues.

Music Theory

The comprehensive examination for the MM and MA degrees in music theory will be administered at the end of the final semester of study and will involve two components. In the first part, the candidate will present concise analyses of two works, one each from the tonal and post‐tonal repertories, assigned two weeks in advance. The analyses should reflect the candidate’s own insights framed in the context of the relevant literature. In the second part, the candidate will defend his/her master’s thesis. For each of the examination topics, the candidate will be encouraged to draw from all relevant theoretical, analytic, and historical points of view. The examination, approximately one hour in duration, will be administered and evaluated by two members of the department faculty.

Musicology and Ethnomusicology

The department will administer an oral examination of about one hour’s length near the conclusion of the final semester of study. Twelve questions from various areas in musicology and ethnomusicology will be given to the candidate two months in advance, and again on the day of the exam. At the examination, the candidate will be asked to choose at least three to answer in depth. If deemed appropriate, the candidate will continue to answer more questions from the list until the faculty is satisfied. At least three faculty members will be present. In addition to the questions on the list, the faculty may engage the candidate on questions related to his/her Master’s Thesis.

Music Education

The final graduate seminar in the program, Curriculum Organization in Music Education, includes a series of assignments that serve as a summary comprehensive evaluation. These papers require students to demonstrate an understanding of music education that extends much deeper than what is included in the course content. They address questions similar in depth and breadth to a take‐home comprehensive examination. Specifically, students must:

  • Develop a rationale for music education. This assignment requires a scholarly paper based in philosophical literature. It draws on knowledge from coursework in philosophical and sociological foundations of music education, coursework on contemporary issues and general education, professional experience and understanding of the discipline and practice of music education, its place in general schooling, and the role of schools in a pluralistic democratic society.
  • Present a Historical Overview of Music in American Schools. This scholarly paper draws on knowledge from coursework in historical foundations of music education and independent research. It requires that the student demonstrate an in‐depth understanding of societal and geopolitical events on school music. It reflects a thorough understanding of history chronologically and contextually. The paper also requires the students to contextualize current practice within an historical framework.
  • Research the demographics and musical ecology of a school community. This scholarly paper requires students to use both textual and ethnographic research skills to gather data about a school and its local community. Then, based on their understandings of the social contexts of schooling as developed in course work in the sociological foundations of music education, they discuss musical cultures of the school and its community with implications for music curricula in those schools.
  • Develop a curricular guide for a specific school based on the preceding assignments. This assignment requires students to develop a curricular guide for use in the specific school studied. It requires them to draw on all of the other assignments listed above to create a curriculum that is based on a sound rationale for music education, contextualized historically, relevant to the needs of students and communities in a 21st Century pluralistic democracy, and tailored to the situated musical needs of the students in a particular musical ecology.