I. Nomination Process
- A senior music major must be nominated by a faculty member and confirmed as eligible by a two-thirds vote of the Music Department faculty.
- Nominations are based on evidence of sustained academic and musical excellence. Eligible seniors will be notified by September 30.
- After receiving nomination, senior candidates wishing to pursue departmental distinction must complete an application for departmental distinction in music and return the application to the HOM 245by November 14.
II. Examples of distinction projects, typically related to the student’s major
- BM performance: a full recital presented with appropriate accompanying research
- BA Music, History-Literature emphasis: a major research paper
- BM or BA, Theory-Composition: a significant composition, publicly performed
- BM Music Education or BA Music with Teaching Credential: a paper or presentation documenting exploration into a music education-related topic
- BM Church Music: a full recital, a hymn festival, or other service planned and led by the candidate
- All projects must be approved by the music department chair and approved and supervised by a faculty advisor.
- All projects are evaluated by a committee of three faculty members, selected by the music department chair.
- Evaluations are shared with the full music faculty, and a two-thirds majority vote determines the candidates who will receive distinction.
- The deadline to complete a 2012-2013 Distinction project is April 28, 2013.
IV. Standards for Distinction Projects
1. Technical Standards:
Standards should be high in every aspect of execution; accuracy of intonation and appropriate sound to the repertory. Mastery of articulation, bow strokes, pedaling is expected. Diction should be clear and languages rendered accurately and without compromise.
2. Musical Depth and Communication:
Musical expression should be rich and appropriate to the repertory. Phrasing should be compelling and clear. In all aspects of musical expression the student should aspire to highest artistic standards.
3. Consistency and Poise:
The program should be presented in the most professional and artistic manner possible. The repertory chosen should reflect significant technical and musical challenges. Singers are expected to memorize the entire program. For instrumentalists, at least one piece must be memorized. Requests for exceptions to these requirements must be submitted to the recital committee for approval.
4. Program Notes in Connection with Performance:
Program notes connected to a recital for Distinction should match the performance in quality. They should encapsulate exactly what the audience needs to know about the music (beyond mere composer's biography). The notes should demonstrate excellence in a) depth and accuracy of research, b) clarity of thesis and expression matched to the audience's level of expertise, c) written prose.
The Distinction project is a formal research paper (25-30 pages excluding the notes, Bibliography, examples and appendices). It should go beyond regular term papers and demonstrate excellence in a) research methods and evaluation of scholarship, b) clarity of thesis and ability to prove logically one's points with scholarship and musical analysis, and c) writing (including paper mechanics, good grammar and compelling prose). The Advisor to the project should have expertise in the chosen topic field.
Lecture, Lecture Demonstration, Lecture Recital:
When applying for one of these options, the student should provide a rationale for offering an oral presentation rather than a written one. Lectures should not consist merely of recitations of research papers. Students who have not fulfilled their ORC requirement prior to the semester in which they intend to present should give serious consideration to a distinction project other than an oral distinction presentation.
The lecture, lecture demonstration, or lecture recital is a formal presentation approximately fifty minutes in length including time, as appropriate, for a question-and-answer period. The presentation must be no longer than one hour. Presentations that merit distinction will demonstrate excellence in a) research methods and evaluation of scholarship, b) clarity of thesis (where applicable), c) critical thinking, including the ability to prove logically one's points with scholarship and musical analysis, d) organization, e) oral communication, and f) use of supplementary images and/or text. Excellence in oral communication includes clarity of delivery, effective pacing and projection, smooth transitions, and the ability to engage the audience through both verbal and nonverbal means. Students should provide at a minimum a handout that conveys the nature and scope of works to be performed and/or analyzed, and a bibliography.
Faculty advisors for projects involving oral presentations should have expertise in the subjects of the projects as well as the ability, time, and willingness to coach students on oral communication.
The Distinction project may be either a recital approximately fifty minutes in length or a newly composed work of substantial scope. Program notes connected to a recital or composition for Distinction should match the compositions in quality. In addition to work with their advisor, students will meet with the Theory/Composition faculty at least 3 weeks before the recital to present their completed scores and list of assistants and to receive guidance in their project.
Recitals that merit distinction will demonstrate excellence in a) recital preparation and rehearsal, b) score engraving and notation, c) variety of ensembles and artistic approaches, and d) depth of artistic inquiry.
Individual compositions that merit distinction could consist of a choral, vocal, or chamber work at least 12 minutes in length that is performed on a senior recital or a work for large ensemble at least 8 minutes in length. Distinction compositions will demonstrate excellence in a) score engraving and notation, b) originality, and c)depth of artistic inquiry.
Distinction in Music Education
The following Music Education Distinction Projects are acceptable:
- A major research paper addressing an approved music education topic (demonstrating written excellence in mechanics, grammar and compelling prose) to be submitted to evaluators and may be shared in a music methods class or public presentation. This paper would represent the deeper exploration of a topic or methodology touched upon briefly in a special methods course, or could address another approved topic pertinent to 21st-century music education. The paper must approach the topic at a level well beyond that expected in required music education courses. The project adviser must have expertise in the area of research.
- An approved action research project addressing a teaching method or teaching/learning issue or practice. This research may be done the semester prior to or the semester of Student Teaching (Professional Semester), or during a combination of the two semesters, if approved, and will include additional field experience hours beyond those expected in education and music methods courses. The research work must be of excellent quality and must be submitted in a written form approved by the project adviser. The adviser must have background and knowledge in the area of action research.
Distinction in Church Music: Choral
The Distinction project for Church Music with Choral emphasis may consist of a worship and music event no more than one hour in length. The forces for the event will be recruited by the candidate, including an ensemble of no less than 16 and no more than 24 singers. A maximum of six scheduled rehearsals will be allowed for preparation of the event in addition to one dress rehearsal in the performance space. Communication with the College Pastor's Office will be required to coordinate the access to and use of any materials needed for the event (bulletin art, hymn engravings, etc.). Communication with the Music Department Office will be required to schedule calendar/rehearsal/performance times. The candidate will be responsible for the purchase/rental of scores and parts not already in the choral collection of the St. Olaf Performance Library.
The successful Distinction event will consist of:
- a sound worship format (for example: liturgical such as Evening Prayer, hymn festival, thematic, some combination of the above structures, or a structure approved by the candidate's project mentor);
- effective balance of music for congregation and choir as well as the integration of the two;
- meaningful and appropriate texts, meditations, readings, etc. that are effectively delivered;
- a program/bulletin* that clearly guides the congregation through the event, is well-edited, and provides some rationale for the event, repertoire choices and its organization; and,
- excellence in performance (from the choir, assisting musicians and the conductor)
In addition to the worship event, a portfolio containing the following will be presented to the Distinction committee for further consideration:
- written plans for individual rehearsals and overall organization of the event;
- written evidence of self-evaluation through the rehearsal process (preferably using video) using forms agreed upon by the mentor and candidate;
- post-event participant (choir) evaluations of the project using questions fashioned by mentor and student (based around the gold form) and conductor reflections/responses; and,
- evidence of score study through either repertoire evaluation forms approved by the mentor and/or copies of marked scores
* it is the responsibility of the candidate to initially prepare her/his own program. It is not the responsibility of the College Pastor's Office or the Music Department Office staff to prepare the program material until the final phases. For example, hymn engravings that are not a part of the current hymn library are the responsibility of the candidate to engrave according to the current standards practiced by the St. Olaf Student Congregation.
The final project proposal must include the following:
- A review of selected background reading, educational materials and/or literature relating to the topic. The candidate must consult with Beth Christensen, Linda Berger and/or Timothy Mahr when choosing materials for review.
- A statement of the paper or project goal or research thesis, along with related assessment criteria (i.e. what criteria-related evidence will be submitted, and how will the reviewers determine that the goal(s) have been met at a high level?)
- A description of the project components (what will be done, with whom, where and with what timeline?)
Students must submit the appropriate departmental paperwork on time, including the signature of an adviser who has expertise in the project area and who will guide their work. Music (2) and education department (1) faculty members who would be competent evaluators for the project should also be listed.