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Music 1A Syllabus

Information on this page may not be fully updated until the first class meeting. Email if you have questions.

Music 1A: Music Appreciation — Music in Western Cultures

Monday/Wednesday, 3:30-5:20, Room A11.
4 lecture units

(If you are looking for a syllabus from a previous quarter, many of them are found at the Music 1A Syllabus Archive page. Note that this course was formerly known as Introduction to Music — Western Cultures.)

Welcome to Music Appreciation — Music in Western Cultures

This syllabus describes course policies and is a contract between you and your teacher. Other materials on this website are extensions of the syllabus and also reflect official course policies. (Some details are subject to change prior to the start of the term and during the term as announced in class.)


Music 1A: Music Appreciation — Music in Western Cultures helps students understand and appreciate so-called “classical” and other types of music. It covers basic elements of musical sound, important musical styles and forms, and important composers from major periods of music history, and more. The course fulfills GE transfer and certificate requirements and some certificate and transfer requirements for music majors. (Consult the De Anza College Catalog for the most current official information.)


  • Employ a basic vocabulary of common music terms to describe observations of recorded and live music.
  • Recognize individual instruments and voices and the various ensembles in which they are used.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the roles of music in human cultures and relate musical expression to other forms of artistic expression and to culture generally.
  • Distinguish features of important musical style periods, forms, composers, and practices.
  • Recognize, describe, and compare musical practices in contemporary society.
  • Recognize basic distinguishing characteristics among a representative group of musical compositions.

Objectives describe skills and knowledge that students will acquire or develop in the course and demonstrate on assignments, quizzes, and exams.

Text and Materials

  • Music: An Appreciation (the current 8th “Brief Edition” by Roger Kamien, sold at De Anza Bookstore) with the CONNECT web-based access to the accompanying REQUIRED audio recordings. (Connect access codes are purchased at the Bookstore.) The 7th edition of the same text and recordings are also acceptable. (Please additional important information in the “More About the Text and Recordings” section below.)
  • Scantron forms (form #2052 or #882E only) and a #2 pencil for 3 tests and the weekly quizzes – approximately fifteen Scantrons for the term.
  • Concert attendance. You must attend a minimum of one live concert during the term, and there may be reasons for you to attend more. Some free events may be available, but you may have to purchase tickets. Nearly all approved concerts are off-campus. More information is available below and elsewhere on the website.
  • Additional required course materials may be available online at no cost and are linked to this website.
  • Access to a computer with a printer, web browser, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Aside from exams, no printed materials are distributed in class — you are required to print some assignment materials yourself.

More About the Text and Recordings

The required text and companion audio recordings are critical to your success in the class. You have options for gaining access to this crucial material.

  • The best option is to purchase (or rent, if available) a new or used copy of current 8th edition of the text and recordings through the college bookstore.
  • The audio recordings are accessible via the Connect website. The textbooks sold at the bookstore come bundled with a Connect access code. Ask at the cash register.
  • The audio recordings were previously available on audio disks. If you have access to the disks you may forego the use of the online Connect access to the recordings.
  • Because updates to the current edition of our text and recordings have been very minor, you may use the previous 7th edition materials. Be careful to get the “brief” 7th edition of the text with the recordings — you must get the audio disks that accompany the text. (Check with the instructor if you have an even older edition.)
  • A few copies of the text and recordings are on reserve in the library. This may be a realistic option if you have sufficient time to do your listening and studying in the library.
  • Another option is to share the course materials with another student. Make sure that both of you will have sufficient time with the book and recordings.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the layout and organization of the text. In particular there are three aspects you’ll want to make sure you understand.

  • PARTS — The text is divided into seven parts, each of which deals with a general aspect of music or a historical time period. For example, Part 1 is devoted to what the author calls “Elements,” or basic terms and concepts about music. Part 2 focuses on early music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The final Part 7 looks specifically at Nonwestern Music. The same organizational concept hold for the other four chapters not mentioned here.
  • CHAPTERS — Each of the above-mentioned “parts” is subdivided into shorter chapters that focus on specific subject areas. For example, in Part 1: Elements, Chapter 1 is Sound: Dynamics, and Tone Color. Chapter 2 is Performing Media: Voices and Instruments, and so on through Chapter 10: Musical Style. After this, Part II: The Middle Ages and Renaissance begins with a set of only two chapters. This pattern of parts made up of a number of chapters continues throughout the book.
  • LISTENING OUTLINES — Throughout the text the author uses musical examples to illustrate key concepts and to introduce you to important pieces of music. In fact, the musical examples might be regarded as the heart of the course! Reading about music that you don’t listen to is about as useful as reading about food and never tasting any! Follow the listening outlines as you listen to the music — they provide a moment-by-moment description of what is happening in the examples. Expect that you’ll need to listen to the examples more than once. Ideally you might listen often enough that the tunes get stuck in your head!

Listening Assignments

Weekly Listening Assignments are based on musical examples included on the recordings that accompany the text. Assignment questions are based on studying the text and listening to the recorded examples.

The assignments are available at the course calendar page of this website – see the link in the sidebar.

  • The assignment files are in the .pdf format, and you are required to print them.
  • The assignment sheets list the locations of the audio recordings on the older audio disks. To find them via the Connect website, log in and look for them by name under the correct section of the text.
  • Listening assignments are due at the start of class on the deadline dates and are not accepted after papers are collected at the start of class.
  • You are required turn in printed copies, using the forms from the website, and to write your answers by hand in pencil or pen on the printed forms. Assignment presented in other forms will be returned without credit.
  • You must print back-to-back on a single sheet or print on one side and staple the assignment pages together. Assignments submitted as loose sheets or attached with tape, paper clips, folder corners, etc. will be returned to you for stapling.
  • It is unacceptable to offer quotations from the text as your homework answers, even if you use quotation marks and indicate the source. To demonstrate understanding you must at least paraphrase the text in your own words. Grades on papers that quote extensively from the book or other sources will be lowered.
  • At the instructor’s discretion, some listening assignments may earn full credit for completion alone, in which case an A grade will be recorded.


There is a short quiz on the reading/listening assignments at the beginning of the first class meeting each week starting in week 2. You will need a Scantron form #2052 or #882E and a #2 pencil for each quiz. Arrive early on quiz days so that you do not miss the quizzes – they generally only take about five minutes.

Quizzes focus on important material from the previous week’s study assignment in the text and recordings as listed in the course calendarThese topics will generally not be covered in class before the quiz so it is critical that you carefully study this material according to the schedule. (Quiz dates are listed in the online course calendar, but are subject to change.)

Concert Reports

You must attend at least one live concert during the term and complete a Concert Report on this event.

See the sidebar for links to complete information about the concert report assignment. In order to complete a successful concert report you must carefully read and understand this material before attending the concert and while writing the paper.

  • The only acceptable concerts are those on the Concert List
  • In rare cases you may be able report on other concerts that meet the assignment guidelines, but only if you get advance approval from the instructor.
  • You may not report on a concert in which you are a participant.
  • The concert list includes a variety of concerts around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Prices range from free/inexpensive up to quite expensive.  
  • You are strongly advised to attend your concert long before the assignment deadlines, especially if cost, transportation considerations, and/or your schedule limit your concert options. The deadline for the report will not be extended if you wait and are unable to find an event shortly before it is due.
  • You may complete an optional second concert report if you wish to raise the grade you earn on the first report.  See the concert report page and the course calendar for more information and important deadlines.

You must earn a non-failing grade on one concert report in order to earn a passing course grade in Music 1A. Students who earn a failing grade on the first concert report or who do not submit this report must complete the second optional concert report with a non-failing grade in order to pass the class.


There are three tests. The two midterms (tests #1 and #2) and the final exam (test #3) may contain multiple choice, true/false, fill-in, short essay, and other items, with some questions based on listening to recorded musical examples. 

  • Bring a Scantron form (#2052 or #882E) and a #2 pencil to each test. A portion of the test will use the Scantron form, and other parts of the test will require written responses.
  • Test #3 is not a comprehensive final exam; it focuses on material presented after test #2. It is similar in form and scale to tests #1 and #2, each of which is completed during a single class session. The amount of time available to complete test #3 may be less than the entire scheduled two-hour final exam session. (This test takes place at the scheduled final exam session as listed in the college final exam schedule.)
  • Missing an exam is a very serious issue. Arrange your schedule to avoid missing test sessions. See the Late Work section of this green sheet for important information concerning missed tests.

You must earn a non-failing grade on two of the three tests in order to earn a passing course grade in Music 1A. Students who earn a failing grade on test #1 or test #2 will have an opportunity to re-take one of the first two tests at the final exam session.


*As described in the late work section of this syllabus, I do not count your lowest homework grade and your lowest weekly quiz grade. This means that it is possible to miss one of each with no grade penalty.

  • I use a weighted average system to determine your final course grade – not a point system.
  • Assignment and course grades will use base letter grades A, B, C, D, and F and +/- symbols. (Although there are no “C-” course grades at De Anza College I may assign this grade on assignments, quizzes, and tests.)
  • You may be able to earn up to one-third of a letter grade of extra credit in the course for attending De Anza College Music Department concerts near the end of the term. See the Extra Credit page for more details.
  • You may receive a failing grade in the course if you stop attending near the end of the term.
  • If an unforeseen emergency interferes with completion of course work near the conclusion of the term you must contact the instructor immediately to discuss the situation, including the possibility being assigned an “incomplete” grade in the course if appropriate.
  • During the quarter you will be able to review your grades on a password-protected web page. More information will be provided in class.
  • Let your teacher know immediately if you think you may have received an incorrect grade. It may not be possible to change an incorrect grade if you wait more than 72 hours after an assignment is handed back or after grades are posted on the website before bringing errors to the instructor’s attention.

IMPORTANT: You must earn grades higher than F on at least two of three tests and on at least one concert report in order to earn a passing grade in the Music 1A. “Passing grade in Music 1A” means a letter grade higher than D+. (There are opportunities to make up one failing test grade and one failing concert report grade near the end of the term.)


Regular attendance is required and critical to your success in this class. Contact me immediately if you miss a class or if you decide to drop. Adjust your schedule for work, vacations, etc. so that they do not conflict with this course. Attendance at the scheduled final exam session is required. The exam dates and times are listed in the course calendar on this website and in the official final exam schedule at the De Anza College website.

  • Attendance may be taken at each class session and an unexcused absence is be recorded if you are not present when roll is called.
  • If you arrive late it is your responsibility to inform the teacher that your absence should be changed to a tardy.
  • Absences are recorded as unexcused until you contact the instructor to explain, at which point they may be changed to an excused absence.
  • You may be dropped for excessive unexcused absences or late arrivals. However, there is no guarantee that you will automatically be dropped if you stop attending without notifying the instructor.
  • Be aware of drop deadlines and make timely arrangements with the instructor or registrar if you decide to drop this class. The college class schedule lists deadlines for dropping with no record or for dropping with a “W” grade. If you stop attending but fail to take steps to drop, you may end up with a W or F grade in the course.
  • You must contact me during a scheduled class meeting or scheduled office hour prior to the deadline if my signature or other action is required.
  • Students may be dropped on their third unexcused absence.
  • An unexcused late arrival for class counts as one half of an absence, and you may be dropped if you frequently arrive late.

First week attendance policy: If a class is full and there is a wait-list, registered students may be dropped for a single unexcused absence during week one in order to make room for those who want to add. Contact the instructor immediately if an unanticipated emergency interferes with attendance.

Use your add code right away: You must complete the add process before the next class meeting. If you wait I may drop you to make room for other students. Speak to the instructor to arrange an exception if your circumstance require you to wait longer than 24 hours to add the class.

Absences on an assignment due date – If you must miss class on the due date for any assignment, the assignment must still be delivered to me no later than the start of class on the due date or it will be considered late. There are alternative ways to take care of this and avoid late penalties:

  • EMAILEmail the content of your assignment to me by the deadline or send a readable photograph or photocopy of the entire assignment no later than the deadline. You must provide a printed copy of the assignment at the next class session you attend and the printed copy must be identical to the copy you submitted by alternate means. If you wait until after the very next class session to submit the original copy without advance permission to do so, your work may not receive credit.
  • DELIVERY: Either send the work with another student or bring it to me before class.
  • EARLY SUBMISSION: If you know in advance you will miss class on a due date, the best practice is to turn the work in early.

Absences on an exam day – Absence on a test day is a serious issue. Notify me in advance, or email/call by the scheduled test session if an extraordinary emergency causes you to miss an exam and you intend to make up the work. Notifying me after the fact is only acceptable in case of unanticipated and extremely serious emergencies where it is impossible for you to email, call, or send word with another student. If you miss an exam and do not contact me immediately you may not be permitted to make up the exam, and your course grade will be affected.

You must discuss the makeup date/time when you notify me of the absence, and you must complete your make-up exam immediately when you return. You may need to change your work or class schedule to make up the test in a timely manner (typically within a day or two of your return) or you may lose credit for the exam.

Attendance at the official final exam session is required: The final exam week schedule is listed at the college website and in the course calendar. Do not schedule events that conflict with the scheduled final exam session. You will not be excused from the final exam nor will you be allowed to take it at an alternate time if you fail to note the date and time of the scheduled final exam session. If you miss test #3 I may assign you a grade of “F” for the course.

Late Work

Assignments are late if they are not turned in at the time the class starts. You must arrive on time on due dates – arrive early to make sure your work is not late. Certain assignments will not be accepted if they are late.

  • Late listening assignments are not accepted. A listening assignment is late if you arrive for class after I collect it. Your lowest listening assignment grade will not count toward your course grade, so you may miss one assignment without penalty.
  • Missed quizzes may not be made up. Your lowest quiz grade will not count toward your grade, so you may miss one quiz without penalty.
  • Late concert reports receive a grade penalty of one letter grade for each day they are late. Reports are late if not turned in when I collect them at the start of the class period on the due date.
  • Optional second concert reports are not accepted after the deadline.
  • Extra credit work is not accepted after the deadline.

See the Attendance section of this syllabus for procedures to follow if you must miss class or arrive late on a due date and you want to avoid late penalties or no credit for late work.

The course calendar at this website lists dates of important assignments and exams.

Retain Copies of Your Work

Retain copies of all submitted and graded work until you have received your final course grade. Always keep backup copies of assignments that you turn in.

  • Retain a copy of your concert report until graded paper is returned.
  • Photocopy, photograph, scan, or fax yourself copies of printed assignments before turning them in.
  • Check the online grade listings weekly and notify the instructor immediately if you think there may be an error.

Academic Integrity

Students and faculty share the goal of maintaining the highest standards of academic integrity. I take this issue very seriously, and consequences can be very serious for students who fail to observe these standards. Consult my statement on Academic Integrity for details about my official policies— and ask for guidance if you have questions. Information about the college academic integrity policy and student code of conduct is available at the college website.

Cell Phones

Cell phone use is never permitted in class. Turn off your cell phone and put it away before entering the classroom.

I will ask you to leave the room for the remainder of the period if your phone goes off during class, if you use your phone or have it out during class. Having your phone on during class is a distraction to you and others in the classroom. Cell phones must be turned off and put away. Setting your phone on “silent” or “vibrate” is not turning it off – “Turn it off” means “turn it off.”

(If an unanticipated emergency need to check your phone cannot wait until the end of class, quietly leave the classroom and go out of the building before turning on your phone.)

Exception: If you have a serious emergency situation (e.g. sick child, serious illness in your family, etc.) and you must be on standby so that you can immediately deal with this emergency situation and you would otherwise have to miss class, the following applies:

  1. You must discuss the emergency situation with me at the start of the period.
  2. I’ll ask you to sit where you can make a quick and quiet exit to answer the call outside the classroom.
  3. Your phone must be on the silent setting.
  4. If a call/text arrives you must leave the room before answering.

Laptops, Tablets, and Electronic Devices

There can be limited course-related reasons to use a laptop, tablet computer, or similar device during regular class sessions. Students who use them are required to sit in the first two rows of the classroom and use them exclusively for purposes directly related to the course. (There is evidence that taking notes on an electronic device is not as effective as taking notes by hand on paper.)

All laptops and tablets and similar devices must be turned off and closed while musical examples are being played during class sessions.

Laptops, tablets, smartphones, headphones, and other electronic devices are never permitted during quiz or exam sessions. The mere presence of such devices during exams and quizzes is a violation of class policy and will have serious consequences including an immediate failing grade on the exam or quiz.

Recording Devices

The use of audio, video, photographic or other recording devices is not allowed in the classroom. The only exceptions are in cases where the students discusses their individual special needs for recording in advance, the instructor gives permission to do so, and the student agrees to the instructor’s rules and conditions

Students may photograph or otherwise copy projected lecture notes following the conclusion of the class session.

Office Hours

Visiting your instructor during an office hour can help you succeed. It is much better to come in and discuss problems and questions than it is to leave your issues unresolved. A visit also helps your teacher get to know you as a person. Many of us have hundreds of new students each term! When you take the time to make a personal contact it helps us make the connection between you and the name on the roll sheet. An office hour visit is a great opportunity to discuss concerns or challenges that could affect your performance in the course and to discuss possible accommodations that may help you achieve success.

Please visit me during my office hours or send email to mitchelldan@deanza.edu any time you have a question or problem relating to the course. My office hours will generally take place in the classroom before/after class.

My office hours are listed in the sidebar at this website. I may be able to meet at other times by appointment. Speak to me or send email to set up an alternate office hour. (Office hours are subject to change as announced in class and on my websites.)

Course Calendar

The course calendar lists all important assignments and dates for the course. Although the calendar is listed on a separate page for practical purpose, information on the calendar is official course information and is therefore part of this green sheet.

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Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office Hours

Monday & Wednesday
Room A11:
15 minutes before Music 1A
10 minutes after Music 1A
Room A91:
15 minutes before Music 51
10 minutes after Music 51
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