Syllabus (Su22)

Last modified on August 30, 2023

Inclusivity in Learning

Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn differently. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

I encourage you to visit Disability Services to determine how you could improve your learning as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met. If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you should: 1) make sure this documentation is on file with Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 4205; 993-2474; to determine the accommodations you need; and 2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.

Course Information


  1. Review techniques of analysis that music theorists commonly use
  2. Critique and apply academic music theory literature
  3. Develop several crucial skills for the professional musician: a) analysis skills, through your assignments; b) writing skills, through your weekly responses; c) presentation skills, through your video presentations

Recommended Prerequisite

MUSI 501, 502, and 516 or appropriate score on graduate placement exam.


This is a fully online course, with different “venues” for different activities.

  • This website is for distributing information about assignments.
  • Blackboard is for submitting assignments and receiving grades/feedback.
  • Slack is for communication and collaborative work. You can also use Slack to ask questions to the whole class about assignments, etc.

Pace and workload

The summer version of this course is an accelerated and compressed 8-week version of the 15-week course that occurs in the fall semester. We will move very quickly.

Due dates are typically Thursdays and Sundays—more details are given below in Assignments.

Calendar of Topics

Instructor Info

  • Name: Dr. Kathleen Smith
  • Email:
  • One-on-one Zoom appointments: Schedule a time via email or Slack

Course Materials

  • There is no required text. Materials will be accessible online or on our readings page.
  • You should have access to a microphone and camera for video chatting and making videos of yourself.

Recommended (not required):

  • Spotify (app)
  • Slack (app)
  • An app for making black-and-white .pdf scans from your phone. I recommend Genius Scan, which has a free version suitable for our purposes.


Your grades and rubrics will be on Blackboard.


Expand each category for more details on how the grade is calculated.

20% – virtual participation
Participation is pass/fail and based on your engagement in the Slack channel each week.
20% – weekly assignments
  • Weekly assignments are graded pass/fail, where anything above 70% is a passing grade.
  • Your assignments grade will be equal to the percentage of assignments you passed. For example: if there were 4 assignments, and you passed 3, your homework grade would be 75% (3 ÷ 4 = .75).
10% – symposium participation
Symposium grades have two components: 1) your individual analysis, and 2) your participation in the group discussion.

  • Your individual analysis will be given a grade according to a rubric; then, you may revise and resubmit your individual analysis as a second attempt. The final grade on your individual analysis will be an average of these two attempts.
  • Your participation in the group discussion is another separate grade.
  • Your analysis symposium grade will average individual analysis and participation grades together equally.
50% – final project (15% video, 35% paper)
The final project is the majority of your grade, so your grade may change significantly based on your performance on this project.

Letter grades

93–100: A
90–92: A−
87–89: B+
80–86: B


By Thursday, end of day: weekly reading and responses

Most weeks, you will have two readings and/or videos to complete.

On Thursday, please check in on Slack in the #reading-responses channel with some type of response about the reading. You might ask clarifying questions, summarize an important bit of it, or just relate to it in some way. You can also respond to someone else’s message (start a thread). This counts toward your participation grade (pass/fail). There’s no word count to worry about; I just want to see you engage with the reading.

By Sunday, end of day: analysis assignments

You will submit your weekly analysis assignments on Sundays. Assignments are submitted on Blackboard, in .pdf format.

Analysis Symposia

A few times during the semester, we will have group projects that I call “analysis symposia.” On symposium weeks, you will not have any additional reading. Instead, you will practice implementing the techniques you have already learned.

For each symposium, I will assign two pieces and divide students into groups. Within each group, half will do one piece, and half will do the other.

  • You will begin with individual analyses. Make a video explaining what you discovered in the piece. The video should be at least 5 minutes long, but no more than 10. I would like to see your face in the video, because in an online class, I think that’s helpful for understanding that we’re all humans and not just names on a screen (but if you can’t do this for some reason, just discuss with me).
  • By Friday, submit this video in two places: uploading to your designated Slack channel and uploading on Blackboard (read more on submitting a video on Blackboard). The Slack channel is for discussion with your peers, while Blackboard is for evaluation and grading by me.
  • After submitting your individual analysis, use Slack to discuss how your findings interact with those of the other members. Approach discussion like a chat conversation rather than a response essay—ask people questions, wait for their replies—just have a conversation! Don’t be too stiff. Your participation in this discussion will earn another grade. I’ll evaluate these discussions on Monday of next week.
  • I will grade both your discussion and your individual analysis as separate grades. Rubrics are always available on Blackboard.
  • If you wish, you may revise your individual analysis in light of what you learned during the group discussion.
    • Submit your revisions in the same place as your original on Blackboard, as a second attempt.
    • Your revised content can be a new video if you like, or you may submit something written if that’s easier.
    • Separate from your analysis, in the “comments” box on Blackboard, you must accompany your analysis with a paragraph explaining how the discussion influenced your revisions.
    • Your revised grade will be averaged with your original grade.

Late work policy

The accelerated pace of this course means you will have a heavy workload. In light of this, falling behind in the course can be disastrous on your end and mine. This forces me to be quite strict with deadlines, and in general, late work will not be accepted. Of course, if there is an emergency or some other dire scenario, we should have a conversation about how to move forward so you can complete the course.

Final project

For the final project, you will analyze a piece of your own choosing, demonstrating your understanding of techniques learned in class.

The final project has two components: a video and a final paper.

Details on the content of the project may be found here.

Mason policies

Honor code

Mason is an honor code university. Read the honor code here.

Title IX

As a faculty member and designated “Responsible Employee,” I am required to report all disclosures of sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and stalking to Mason’s Title IX Coordinator per university policy 1412. If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, please contact the Student Support and Advocacy Center (703-380-1434), Counseling and Psychological Services (703-993-2380), Student Health Services, or Mason’s Title IX Coordinator (703-993-8730;


Students must use their MasonLive email account to receive important University information, including communications related to this class. I will not respond to messages sent from or send messages to a non-Mason email address.