The Music Student Handbook

(Miscellaneous Requirements for Students in the Department of Music)

Freshman Observation Program for Music Education Majors at Westminster College

During the freshman year, each music education student is required to complete 10 observations in the public schools.. It is recommended, if possible, that the student visit an urban and either a suburban or a rural school district in order to get a glimpse of at least two different types of schools. The student will make 6 observations in the music classroom (2 elementart, 2 jr. high/middle school, 2 high school) and 4 observations in the area of Special Needs (we suggest 2 elementary and 2 at either jr. high/middle school or sr. high school).

To make arrangements for observations the student should call the school identifying him/herself as a music education student at Westminster. The student should talk to the music teacher and then to the school principal to receive permission to visit classes.  The student may complete observations in the area around Westminster or in their home area (my not go to their home school).

The student should go to the school dressed as a professional. Upon arrival he/she should check in at the school office before proceeding to the music department. If the music teacher gives an opportunity to assist, the student should do so. Any experiences gained will help the student in the future. The music teacher should sign the observation form to verify the visit.

The student should fill out the observation form immediately following each observation, and turn them in to the music office at Westminster for filing in the student's folder. With adequate planning, several observations may be made in the same day. A performance class period near the end of the term will be devoted to a discussion of the observations and the music education program at Westminster.

Observation requirements are as follows:
I. A total of 10 observations are required. An observation constitutes 1 class period or 1 rehearsal period.

II. Observations should be made in at least two different school districts.

III. Observations will be made in three different grade levels: (1) Grades 1-4, (2) Grades 6-8, and (3) Grades 9-12.

IV. The distribution of observations should be as follows:
  • Choral rehearsals 2 observations 2 different levels

  • Instrumental rehearsals 2 observations 2 different levels

  • General music classes 2 observations 2 different levels
  • Special Needs observations 4 observations, 2 levels

V. The student must fill out a form for each observation, get the cooperating teacher to sign the form, and turn it in to either the Director of Choral Activities or the Director of Bands. The completed forms will ultimately be housed in the student's folder in the music office.

VI. Note that students will need to submit for their criminal history and child abuse clearances prior to performing observations.  (will be instructed how to do so by music department education faculty).

Observation of Public School Music Classes

Areas of Assessement at Westminster College

Following are the assessment schemes for music majors (B.A., B.S., and B.M.) currently in place in the Department of Music. These are in addition to regular course grading.

Private Instrument
Each student taking private lessons performs a �jury� (i.e., performs before the assembled music faculty) at the end of each semester�s private lessons. The faculty members individually, and in writing, assess the student�s performance. After each student�s performance, the jury caucuses and submits to the private teacher its grade of the student�s performance. This grade is combined with two others to determine the student�s semester course grade. The two other grades are:
  1. the student�s participation grade in the weekly Master Class (where students and faculty of like instruments meet together to discuss with and perform for each other)

  2. the private teacher�s grade of the student�s semester work

In determining the student�s semester course grade, the weighting of the three component grades is:
  1. 60% private teacher�s grade,
  2. 30% jury�s grade (Jury Examinations), and
  3. 10% master class participation grade.

The grade submitted on the official grade sheet, signed by the private teacher, must be the composite grade after applying the above weighting (percentages).

Additionally, each student performs a Sophomore Hearing, also before the assembled music faculty, in the fall of the second year. Moreover, each student performs a Recital Hearing, again before the assembled music faculty, prior to the public performance of the Capstone Recital. All of these performances are assessed, in writing, by the faculty. Feedback is given the students immediately after each performance. The students are allowed to read the individual faculty members� assessments, after which the documents are added to the students� departmental files.

The Department of Music offers several curricula:
  1. 3 majors under the professional program (Bachelor of Music degree),
  2. 1 major under the liberal arts program (Track 1 under the Bachelor of Arts degree; Track 2 under the Bachelor of Science degree), and
  3. 1 minor under the liberal arts program (either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree).


Music Theory
There is one course of study which transcends all of these curricula -- music theory. Each of the first four courses in the sequence includes a lab. Students� progress is assessed in the courses and in the labs. The department also includes testing in music theory at the time of each student�s Sophomore Hearing.

Music History
Each student who is majoring or minoring in music (under the B.M., B.A., or B.S. degrees) is required to take at least one course in music history. Each of the music history courses includes a listening component (i.e., students are required to recognize and talk intelligently about a pre-determined list of musical compositions). Assessment is achieved through regular course testing, both written and aural recognition, and through the departmental faculty�s reading and grading of the Capstone Recital document (see below).

Conducting and Instrumental Pedagogy Classes
Students are graded in each of the conducting and pedagogy classes. Additionally, all students in basic and instrumental conducting and pedagogy classes meet weekly in a combined instrumental pedagogy laboratory �band� to perform on the �new� instrument being studied (i.e., the pedagogy class) during that semester. Students studying conducting serve as the conductors of this laboratory �band.� The assigned faculty member(s) assesses and critiques both the student conductors and the student performers.

Student Teaching
The culminating assessment event for most of our students (i.e., those that are Music Education majors under the B.M. degree) is connected to the student teaching experience. In most cases assessment is made by no fewer than four professionals (three accredited teachers in the assigned student teaching location and the colleges� supervisor of student teaching in music). The student teacher must achieve �competency� in his/her areas of student teaching in order to be recommended for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania teacher certification.

The department requires of each cooperating teacher no fewer than three written assessments of each student during each student teachers� assigned period. To these are added the written assessments of the supervisor of student teaching in music. All of these assessments are based on specific criteria and are the result of first hand observations. All assessments are shared with the student teacher. At the conclusion of the student teaching experience the supervisor weighs all of the written assessments to make the final determination of:

  1. grade achieved in student teaching and
  2. recommendation for certification.

The department requires all majors to present a capstone recital (or capstone lecture recital). This recital is evaluated by the departmental faculty in a private presentation. The faculty votes to:
  1. pass the recital and recommend for public performance,
  2. pass the recital but not recommend for public performance,
  3. pass the recital but with restrictions or alterations in the program, or
  4. not pass the recital.

Accompanying the capstone recital are:
  1. a portfolio of work done by the student in music while at Westminster, and
  2. a document which analyzes and discusses the music being performed on the capstone recital.

Both are prepared by the student and submitted to the faculty prior to the private presentation of the recital to the faculty.

Jury Examinations at Westminster College

During the final weeks of each term, all music majors must perform in the area of their major concentration before a "jury" of two or more faculty members. The jury evaluation is scheduled for approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length. The following procedures apply.
  1. The student should prepare three copies of the "repertoire sheet" and distribute them to the faculty at the time of the jury.
  2. At each jury in the junior and senior years the student should select (in conference with the teacher) and prepare (independently of the teacher) one composition. This is in addition to the other works prepared with the teacher's coaching.

  3. The student's grade for the term of private study will be determined as follows. After each student's performance, the jury caucuses and submits to the private teacher its grade of the student's performance. This grade is combined with two others to determine the student's semester course grade. The two other grades are (1) the student's participation grade in the weekly Master Class (where students and faculty of like instruments meet together to discuss with and perform for each other), and (2) the private teacher's grade of the student's semester work. In determining the student's semester course grade, the weighting of the three component grades is: 60% private teacher's grade; 30% jury's grade; 10% master class participation grade. It is the private teacher's responsibility to compute the semester grade from the several component grades.

  4. A student who has performed a required junior or senior Capstone recital within the last 5 weeks of a given term will be required only to perform the independent composition at the jury.

  5. Since private and candid discussion as to the merits and problems of the student performer and the performance will be conducted by the faculty at the Jury, all Juries will be closed to the public (including the performers' friends and relatives, and faculty from other departments).

Sophomore Hearing at Westminster College

Each student pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree (all majors) or the Bachelor of Arts degree with a single major in Music must take a Sophomore Hearing. During the third term of study, a comprehensive review will be made by a faculty committee that will attempt to evaluate the student's progress in relation to musical and academic growth and future goals. Faculty recommendations from the Sophomore Hearing will be summarized by the Chair and will be given to the student in writing. The following procedures and responsibilities apply.

A. The student must submit 6 copies of a written essay to the department Chair one week prior to the hearing. The essay should:
  1. Begin with a paragraph about the importance of music in the student's life;
  2. Summarize the student's musical experiences to the present time;
  3. Continue with a self-assessment of:
    a. Strengths and weaknesses as a practicing musician;
    b. The relationship of studies to career goals;
    c. Desire to become an educated individual;
    d. Conclude with a summary of the student's long range plans after graduation, including alternatives being considered.

B. The student should be prepared to perform one selection or excerpt (up to but not exceeding five minutes) on the primary performance instrument (or voice).

C. The student should be prepared to demonstrate improvisation on the primary performance instrument (or voice).

D. The student should be prepared to present a keyboard demonstration showing level of proficiency.

E. The student should be able to detect errors in a prepared choral, instrumental, or keyboard score. The student will receive the score one week prior to the hearing. At the hearing the score will be performed at the piano or on tape or CD. The student must detect errors.

F. The student should be able to perform both rhythmic and melodic sight reading examples. The student will be required to speak, clap, or otherwise perform the rhythmic example, and to sing the melodic example on sight. Instrumentalists will also be required to sight read a melodic example on their primary instruments.

G. The faculty will review the student's academic record to date and will ask questions following the student's performance.

H. The student will be allowed an opportunity to ask questions of the faculty, and to question faculty and departmental policies that may have some bearing on the Hearing and the student's progress to date and projections into the future.

I. Faculty recommendations - the following options will be addressed.
  1. The student will be encouraged to continue in the program as planned.
  2. The student will be encouraged to continue in the program, but with recommendations for corrections of identified weaknesses.
  3. The student will be encouraged to seek another major, either remaining in, or changing out of, music.

Piano Proficiency Examination at Westminster College

The proficiency examination in piano is required of every student, including keyboard majors, pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education, Performance, or Sacred Music. A student choosing to minor in music while majoring in elementary education must pass the piano proficiency examination.

The proficiency examinations are performance demonstrations given before faculty committees. An opportunity to take the examination is given at the conclusion of each term. The proficiency consists of ten (10) skills, which may be taken in either two parts or in its entirety. Students may enroll in Functional Piano Class MUS 242 in preparation for the proficiency exam.

List of ten (10) skills:
  1. Play all major scales in eighth notes, two octaves, hands together at m.m. 100.
  2. Play all harmonic minor scales, in eighth notes, two octaves, hands together at m.m. 100.
  3. Harmonize at sight a traditional folk song, which may be in a major or minor key of up to three sharps or four flats, and which may include secondary dominant.
  4. Transpose a given harmonization to keys a major or minor second both up and down.
  5. Prepare a vocal or instrumental accompaniment to be played with a soloist. Functional Class Piano instructor must approve the choice of accompaniment.
  6. Play a prepared hymn.
  7. Play a prepared vocal score including playing any part or combination of parts.
  8. Improvise a short composition illustrating some given facet of musical learning, such as modulation, secondary chords, syncopation, a given mood, or a given small form (waltz, march, or polka). Play �Happy Birthday�.
  9. Play from memory �The Star Spangled Banner�.
  10. Sight reading.

Faculty Hearings of Junior and Capstone Recitals and Performance Projects at Westminster College

Every junior and Capstone (senior) recital and performance project required in pursuit of a degree program of the Department of Music, and every extra recital that will be given in a college owned facility, must be performed, in its entirety, before the music faculty for its approval, prior to public performance. (Unless otherwise directed by the faculty, all students are expected to present the recital in public after passing the Recital Hearing.)

Since private and candid discussion as to the merits and problems of the student performer and the performance will be conducted by the faculty at the Hearing, all Recital Hearings will be closed to the public (including the performers' friends and relatives, and faculty from other departments).

Following the Recital Hearing, the student will receive from the department Chair, both a verbal and a written evaluation of the performance, with one of the following options (see Faculty Recommendations below) directed by the faculty present.

(A student not majoring in music who desires to present a recital with departmental sanction or using departmental equipment or college facilities must comply with these same requirements.)

The junior and Capstone recitals, representing levels of technical and musical achievement commensurate with the student's standing, will meet different needs for different students. Therefore, the shape and content of the recital shall be worked out by the student and his major instructor. It may vary from a format of music representing all major periods or composers in the idiom to a lecture format examining some particular aspect or problem in the literature of the student's primary performance instrument (or voice).

Recitals for each degree program are specified in the Westminster College Catalog and in the several pages of this handbook. The following rules apply.
  1. A public performance must conform to the Recital Hearing as to literature and memorization unless otherwise directed in writing by the Chair.
  2. No Recital Hearings will be scheduled after November 15 and April 15 during the respective term in which the recital is to be performed.
  3. Chamber music ensembles sponsored by the Department of Music (which may not include the featured performers) may assist in a public recital when additional time would enhance the program.
  4. When a recital includes the use of off campus supporting performers, approval must be secured from the private teacher and the Chair of the Department.
  5. Music students who are not required to give recitals but wish to do so must seek permission from the jury at the end of the term prior to the scheduling of the recital. These recitals or portions of recitals may be scheduled at the weekly performance class.
  6. Whenever possible, students presenting half-hour recitals should attempt to schedule 2 recitals at the same concert.

The recital should demonstrate to the satisfaction of the department faculty the following requirements:
  1. The recitals of vocalists, string instrumentalists, and pianists should be memorized. Failure to comply with the memorization requirement will result in a grade lowered by up to one letter grade.
  2. The norm for a half-hour recital is between 25 and 35 minutes of music. Longer recitals must be approved at the student's jury examination at the conclusion of the term immediately preceding the recital. Students desiring such deviation from the norm must petition the jury, in writing.
  3. Recitals should contain music of the highest caliber representing several styles and historical periods.
  4. Permission to present a Capstone lecture recital (or other performance project), as an option to the traditional Capstone recital (if permissible under the degree and major), must be secured at the student's jury examination at the conclusion of the 2nd term preceding the term of the intended performance. Students desiring extra long recitals must petition the jury, in writing. The petition should include an outline of the subject and a bibliography. The completed project must include a manuscript, larger and more in depth than the traditional Capstone recital document, prepared under the supervision of the private teacher, and read at the presentation. A lecture recital should be about 45 minutes in length.

Faculty recommendations:
  1. The recital is approved for public performance in its entirety. The public recital must be given within one month and the date must be approved by the department Chair.
  2. The recital is approved for public performance, but with some restrictions or limitations on the repertoire to be presented to the public. The public recital must be given within one month and the date must be approved by the department Chair.
  3. The recital is accepted but permission for public performance is denied.
  4. All or part of the recital is disapproved, thus necessitating a re-hearing before the faculty. (A fee of $25.00 will be required for each repeat Recital Hearing.)

MUS-601 Capstone at Westminster College

The music capstone shall consist of the following three components: the solo recital, the accompanying document, and the student portfolio. The document is due one month prior to the recital. The portfolio is due 2 weeks prior to the recital. Components of the capstone shall be evaluated separately by the faculty and the final grade arrived at in the following manner: Document 35%, Portfolio 15%, Recital 50%.

A. The Capstone Document - for each piece performed at the senior recital, students discuss:
  1. Style Period
  2. Genre
  3. Where it fits in the composer's output
  4. Overall form
  5. Key areas and types of modulations
  6. Texture
  7. Salient musical characteristics
  8. Interpretive challenges

Allow approximately 2-3 typewritten pages for each recital selection. Then, students should discuss their rationale for selecting the above pieces and their rationale for ordering them in a concert program.

B. The Student Portfolio
  1. Vita
  2. Repertoire list (from private study)
  3. Audition, jury, sophomore hearing, and recital hearing sheets
  4. Solo and ensemble programs
  5. Other supporting documents (music history papers, music theory projects, etc.)

C. The Recital - procedures for Student Recitals at Westminster College include the following:
  1. Length. Performance majors must present a one-hour recital. All other majors must present a half-hour recital.
  2. Preliminary Plans. The student, in conjunction with the private teacher, should select a date for the recital at least four months in advance. The Chair of the Department will schedule recitals on the college calendar and reserve Orr Auditorium or Wallace Chapel.
  3. Advertising
    a. The student should present the program copy and particulars to the Director of Communications Services two weeks prior to the recital, but not before the successful completion of the Faculty Hearing.
    b. The student should send a second copy of the program and particulars to the Editor of the Holcad and to the Program Director of WWNW, but not before the successful completion of the Faculty Hearing.
    c. The student should make posters and distribute on campus bulletin boards, but not before the successful completion of the Faculty Hearing.
  4. Printed Programs
    a. All program copy should be presented to the Chair two weeks before the hearing date. The program should be uniform in format. A sample program is available upon request. At the end of the recital program a statement should read as follows:
    This recital is in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Music (or Arts) in (major) degree.
    Studio of (enter teacher's name).
    b. The teacher's signature or initials must be written on the program copy to indicate approval.
    c. Program notes and translations will be printed separately from the program.
  5. Arrangements
    a. Each student should contact the student or office in charge of recording to arrange for the recording of the recital.
    b. Each student should contact the student or office in charge of lighting to arrange for the lighting and staging of the recital.
    c. Students should arrange for at least two ushers to distribute programs.
    d. Each student should arrange for a stage manager to see that the stage is properly set -- piano or organ placed correctly, to remove litter from public view, and to secure any excess stage properties. When necessary, the student should arrange for someone to adjust the piano lid or turn pages. (In adjusting the piano lid for piano solos, first lower the music rack and push it back, then raise the lid. For accompanists, reverse the order.)
    e. To insure equality for all, we request that students refrain from presenting encores and there be no public presentation of flowers or gifts. If a reception is planned, it should be personal in nature including only close friends and those associated with the recital. Please avoid large open receptions.
    f. Dress for recitals should conform to contemporary professional standards. If there are any questions as to what constitutes appropriate dress, the student should discuss this with the teacher.