Qualifying Exams
19 Sep 2013
Bianca Hall, musician & educator
     So, I'm at the tail-end of my degree program at USC (University of Southern California), having completed all of my coursework this summer, but I find myself no less busy than when I was enrolled in classes.

     In the D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) program, we have our major field, in my case it's Performance--Early Music, plus an Academic Field and 2 Elective Fields. The idea is to become versatile and well-rounded musicians by having these secondary focuses. In my case, my Academic Field is Music Theory and Analysis and my Elective Fields are College Teaching and Recorder Performance. Each field has course requirements and some sort of final assessment.
     For Recorder Performance, I gave a recital last spring--my first as a recorder player! It was such a fun process preparing a recital on a secondary instrument, and though it was at times humbling and challenging, I learned so much from the process, not simply about how to play the instrument, but by throwing myself into a less familiar context and forcing myself to learn a new skill, I also learned a lot about myself and once again appreciated the process of learning.
     For the field of College Teaching, I had the privilege of taking classes in the Pedagogy of College Teaching, Teaching Music Theory, and Technology in the Classroom. All were interesting and useful courses that prepare students for careers in Higher Education, whether at a college, university, or conservatory. Having completed those courses, I'm currently preparing for a comprehensive written exam. It's been an interesting, if at times frustrating and dizzying, process. The exam will be 2 hours long, and I will be asked to write 2 essays pertaining to my completed coursework and given 1 hour for each. In preparation, I've been working with my College Teaching advisor to develop 5 essay questions from topics related to my completed courses. The tricky part has been choosing questions that are academic enough and that can be supported not only with secondary sources (books and articles about the topics), but also primary sources (the actual studies with the data that supports the claims and ideas put forth in secondary sources). So, I've been sifting through the various article databases (JSTOR, ProQuest, etc.) in search of sources, and I can't emphasize enough the importance of not only finding the right search terms, but also of keeping track of the ones you've already used! Keeping track will save you from the headache you receive after banging your head on your desk cuz you can't remember what you've already done.
     Finally, the Theory and Analysis field requires you take 4 courses; in my case, I took 2 classes in Schenkerian Analysis, a class on the music of Dufay taught by one of the composition faculty, and a class on String Quartets of the 20th & 21st Centuries. The final assessment for this field is a 30-page capstone paper on a topic I decide on with my advisor. Once again, the process of choosing my paper focus was a challenge, especially since I want to choose a topic related to my major field, but must resist the temptation to turn it into a music history or performance practice paper instead of the analysis paper it is supposed to be -- it's hard to resist one's natural tendencies. I'll blog more about the specifics of all my papers in a later post.
     In addition to preparing for these written requirements, I am preparing my 3rd recital, which will be Sunday, October 13 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Angels in Pasadena. It's a chamber concert entitled "Adoramus te, Christe: The grace of Christ through the music of Monteverdi & Sch├╝tz." I'll take a separate post to talk about that as well.
     Once I've passed my written exams, I will have to have an oral exam with the advisors from all of my areas, and once that has been completed and I've passed, I'll be able to give my final recital, which is still in the works.
     All I can think while preparing all of this is "baby steps." It can be easy to be overwhelmed with so many projects in the works simultaneously, so I have to take them one step at a time...
<April 2021>


On the Q---_s Conception. (Tune: "Packington's Pound")
Anonymous: BALLAD. To the Tune of Couragio
Anonymous: Alta Trinita
Agostini: Quando l'ira del cielo
Vierdanck: Ich freue mich im Herren
Traditional: Barbara Allen
Fusu: A Winter Song
Fusu: Steaua Sus Rasare
Anonymous: Plus bele que flor/Quant revient/L'autrier joer/Flos Filius
Anonymous: Mout me fu grief li departir/Robin m'aime/Portare
Anonymous: Variations for recorder and basso continuo
Anonymous: Alle psallite cum luya

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