Home » Home Page News » Music 1A: Listing Versus Describing… And A Few More Things About Homework

Music 1A: Listing Versus Describing… And A Few More Things About Homework

I frequently see homework assignment answers that make the mistake of providing a list when the question calls for a description. These two things — lists and descriptions — are not the same.

You would not answer the following two requests the same way.

  • List your three best friends.
  • Describe your three best friends.

Make sense? In the first case you could simply name three people. In the second case you need to offer more information and describe some of their characteristics. 

Many of my homework assignments ask you to describe things (or, in some cases list and describe), so read carefully and respond accordingly. For example.

  • List textures used in this piece.
    You could answer, for example, monophonic and polyphonic textures.
  • Describe the use of texture in this piece.
    You could answer, for example, The piece starts with monophonic texture. As more instruments come in it changes to polyphony. The texture becomes homophonic when the piano accompanies the singer.


  • Remember that you must not simply quote text from the book on the homework assignments. At a minimum you must paraphrase in your own words, since that suggests that you understand the information.
  • You will never earn an A grade on a homework paper on which you substitute quotes in place of your own descriptions.
  • Make sure your answers are focused on the subject of the questions. Avoid bringing in unrelated and/or irrelevant material — it actually makes your answer less credible.
  • Avoid excess verbosity — in general it is better to answer in a clear, concise, and efficient manner that conveys your knowledge of the subject.
  • Always answer on the printed form from the website. Please do not attach handwritten or typed sheets unless you clear it with me ahead of time.
  • Always do the listening and consult the text before answering!

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