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MUSIC 1: Exploring Music | Queens College | Fall 2022, 3 credits

Instructor Samuel Teeple (steeple@gradcenter.cuny.edu)
Office Hours Hosted via Zoom Mon. & Wed. 4pm – 5:30pm or by appointment
Zoom link available here
Class Meetings Mon. & Wed., 10:45am – 12:00pm
Andy Warhol print of composer Ludwig van Beethoven with unique colors of blue and red
Andy Warhol print of composer Ludwig van Beethoven; 1987

Course Summary

Exploring Music (aka Introduction to Music) examines how music communicates and embodies social and personal ideas, beliefs, and values relevant to both music makers and users. Musical elements and listening skills are introduced and developed throughout the course in order to explicate musical meanings. We will learn about different genres of music, including popular music, folk music, and Western art music (also known as classical music), by examining not only their sounds, but their social historical contexts. No previous musical expertise is required to succeed in this class. At the end of this semester, students will be able to recognize specific musical characteristics across a variety of styles and become familiar with how factors like class, politics, and culture can shape musical sounds. As a class, we will reflect on the communicative powers of music, connecting the sounds we hear with the living world that surrounds them.

For this course, you’ll need…

Blackboard is an online teaching platform. You will submit all assignments and quizlets via Blackboard, and announcements will be posted there; blogs will be posted to the Commons course site.

How to access Blackboard:
1. Visit http://bbhosted.cuny.edu
2. Login with your CUNY login credentials: Firstname.Lastname##@login.cuny.edu
3. Under the My Courses tab on the left side of the screen, click on the title of our course: Exploring Music (MUSIC 1-FYE2 35002) Fall 2022.



Syllabus, readings, course schedule, assignments, blog posts, and more are available through our course site, hosted on the CUNY Academic Commons. To learn more about using the Commons, visit our How-to Guide.


Required Textbooks
Resonances: Engaging Music in Its Cultural Context
Understanding Music: Past and Present
Music: its Language, History, and Culture

These textbooks are all Open Educational Resources (OER); you can download them for free on our course site, along with any other assigned readings.

Student Resources at Queens College

Looking for support as a first year student? First Year Experience (FYE) is a student success program designed to support first-year freshmen and transfer students in their undergraduate careers. Through FYE, students have access to support in study skills, time management and academic planning through peer mentorship, hands-on workshops, and online video tutorials. Students interested in taking advantage of these opportunities can visit FYE virtually at fye.qc.cuny.edu or in-person Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm in Honors Hall room 5. Email any questions to fye@qc.cuny.edu.

Looking for a laptop to complete your online work? Request to borrow an online device from QC here : https://www.provost.qc.cuny.edu/students/devices This is just one entry from the Provost’s Office long list of student resources, including food assistance and emergency funds: https://www.provost.qc.cuny.edu/students

Looking for someone to talk to? Many students are dealing with feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. The QC Counseling Center takes appointments by phone (+1 718-997-5420), and provides referrals to low-cost, sliding scale, and pro bono mental health practitioners. Contact them via email (CounselingCenter@qc.cuny.edu) or by phone: (718) 997-5420.

Looking for help with writing? Writing assignments make up a large proportion of your grade in this course. For one-on-one help with topics like sentence structure, grammar, and spelling, please make a free appointment online with the campus writing center: http://writingcenter.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/

Accessibility Statement

Students with disabilities or other conditions requiring academic accommodation should: (1) register with and provide documentation to the Special Services Office (http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/spsv/index.htm) (2) bring a letter to the instructor during the first week of classes indicating the need for accommodation, and of what type. For more information, contact Dr. Mirian Detres-Hickey,  Special Services Office: qc.spsv@qc.cuny.edu.

Your success in this class is important to me. If there are circumstances that may affect your performance in this class, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can work together to adapt assignments that meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

Learning Goals and Objectives

To be able to investigate the social context behind a given piece, recording, or performance; To develop critical listening skills that allow you to identify musical characteristics at work in a given piece, recording, or performance; To improve your ability to communicate ideas clearly and concisely in writing; To be able to articulate the relationship between musical characteristics and social context in a given piece, recording, or performance; To become familiar with the technical vocabulary of music and apply it to Western art music, popular music, and world music.

Grading and Assignments

Pie chart depicting the split of points for the semester. Small Assignments: 50 pts. Music and... Playlist: 180 pts. Quizlets: 100 pts. Blogs: 100 pts.
Every point is worth the same amount (assignments are not weighted). Your grade is calculated as the percentage of possible points that you earn: points you earned/points available.


  • 10 blogs this semester at 10 points each
  • Blog prompts posted Mondays on the Commons
  • To earn 10 points:
    • Write around 200 words
    • Support claims with evidence from music, textbook, or outside source
    • Post your blog by Sunday at 11:59pm
  • To receive an extra credit point, leave a thoughtful reply on a classmate’s post by the following Monday at 11:59pm
    • Replies should be two to three sentences long and engage with the author’s ideas by adding your own input; more than just “I agree” or “I like that song too”


  • 11 quizlets this semester at 10 points each; lowest score is dropped at the end of the semester
  • 5 to 10 questions based on the week’s reading, listening, and course content
  • Posted Mondays on Blackboard
  • Due Sunday at 11:59pm

Small Assignments

  • Miscellaneous category worth 50 points spread across four assignments
    • Joining the Commons: Sunday September 4
      • Make a profile, join the course site, and comment on the Welcome post
    • Student Survey: Sunday September 4
      • Fill out the student survey
    • Musical Elements Assignment: Sunday, September 18
      • Notes-based worksheet dedicated to the musical elements; 20 pts.
    • Test Builder Assignment: Sunday, November 20
      • Create a short test based on one of the textbook chapters; 20 pts.

Music and… Playlist Project

  • An annotated playlist of six songs or pieces of music aligned with a social topic of your choosing (like Music and Feminism, Music and Agriculture, Music and Revolution, etc.)
    • Not eligible: emotions or moods; topics used in textbook chapter titles 
  • Playlist choices should include a diversity of artists and genres: at least one example each of folk music, Western art music, and popular music
    • You can choose one of your playlist entries from our textbooks
  • Written entry of about 200 words for each song/piece that discusses its:
    • Musical characteristics
    • Social, cultural, or historical background
    • Connection to the topic
  • Due in building block stages throughout the semester; continue improving each playlist entry based on my feedback (even the first ones!)
  • Replaces the midterm and final exams

Music and… Playlist Stages

  • Topic Proposal and First Playlist Entry: Sunday October 2
    • Topic summary, first playlist entry, bibliography; 20 pts.
  • Small Group Peer Review: Sunday October 16
    • Using Blackboard groups, read and review several of your classmates’ topic proposals; 20 pts.
  • Music and… Playlist Part 1: Sunday October 30
    • Topic summary and first playlist entry with necessary revisions, two more playlist entries, bibliography; 60 pts.
  • Presentation: Sunday December 11
    • In-class presentation with slides that summarize your playlist; 20 pts.
  • Music and… Playlist Part 1 + Part 2: Sunday December 18
    • Topic summary, six playlist entries with necessary revisions, bibliography; 60 pts.

Extra Credit: Participation Points

  • You can earn up to 20 points of extra credit by completing small participation activities assigned regularly in class meetings. Participation points are calculated at the end of the semester and based on the percentage of participation activities you’ve turned in.
  • If you are unable to attend class for an extended period but are still interested in earning participation points, you can reach out to me for an alternative assignment before the end of the semester.

Course Policies

Attendance at class meetings is not required but it is highly recommended. At these meetings, we will not only discuss the content covered in the textbook and/or video lectures, but also break down large assignments, review course concepts, address questions, and exchange feedback about what’s working and what isn’t working in the course. I know it can be difficult to get back into the groove of attending class but stopping by each week is essential to learning new concepts and staying on top of due dates. You can also get to know your classmates and instructor on a face-to-face level and earn extra credit! If you cannot attend class for an extended period of time due to illness or another personal issue, please let me know as soon as possible.

Late Work: Each student will be given two “late passes” to use for any assignment, no questions asked! By using a late pass, you will earn an extra 48 hours past the original due date to turn in your work. To use a late pass, fill out the Google Form linked on Blackboard.

If for whatever reason you find yourself regularly unable to complete your weekly work on time, contact me directly. You do not need to share personal or medical information with me to justify an extension or accommodation.

Holidays: If a religious holiday falls on a scheduled due date or makes it difficult for you to complete your work on time, please let me know and I will accommodate your needs.

Academic Honesty: Academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension and/or expulsion.

Examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to cheating, plagiarism (passing someone else’s work off as your own), obtaining unfair advantage, and/or falsification of records and official documents. If you share an assignment with a classmate and they copy your work, with or without your permission, both of you can be penalized. If you copy text directly from a website or textbook, paste it in your assignment, and don’t give credit, you will fail the assignment. Simply put, academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class. If you are unsure whether an action you wish to take is academically dishonest (e.g., working on a homework assignment with a friend),ask me first.

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July 2024

This course includes Open Educational Resources (OER), which are entirely cost-free and accessible online. Developed in the Open Knowledge Fellowship at The Graduate Center's Mina Rees Library, this work is made possible by state grant funding through the Office of Library Services.

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