Short Written Assignment

Submitted by Matthew Schulkind on Tuesday, 2/9/2010, at 2:40 PM

As with every assignment this semester, my goal is to press you to think critically.  On the surface, the topic for the short written assignment seems simple enough: Write about a song that you love and explain why you love it.  However, experience tells me that your attitude will change when you actually sit down to write the paper.  In past semesters, students have 'freaked out' when it came time to write, largely because the assignment provides little or no structure. 


The reason to give you so much freedom is to give you experience floundering around in search of an interesting argument.  Many times, you know what the professor wants to hear and you tailor your discussion to suit his/her agenda.  I guarantee you that I have no agenda for this paper.  I have no pre-conceived notions about what a good paper 'should' say.  I want you to think long and hard about why you love your song so much.  Is it the music, itself?  Does the music remind you of a particular event or period of your life?  Does the music reflect something important about you or your journey of self-actualization?  You are free to cite relevant literature, but are not required to do so.  Start thinking about what you song you will choose now; use spare moments to try to reconstruct what makes your song so likeable. 


In addition to obliging you to think critically, I want to provide a respite to those of you who balk at the cognitive approach to studying music, that is breaking music down into its constituent components.  This is your opportunity to redress this failing, to deal with music at whatever level you choose.  Just be sure that your paper reflects a careful, reasoned, and insightful attempt to understand the factors related to musical preference.