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MUSIC 4GP3A Ensemble:Percussion

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Michael Schutz


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 424

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23159


Office Hours: By appointment only

Course Objectives:

This course teaches, through playing/singing, the principles of ensemble performance - listening, tuning, balance, blend, musicality, style, as well as rhythmic, dynamic and phrasal flexibility. Students will be given specific direction in the development of those skills appropriate to their ensemble, and are expected to show continuous progress in their development. As this course forms part of the performance component of music degrees, all ensembles normally perform at least one full concert per term. In addition to regularly scheduled rehearsals, 2+ hours per week of individual and/or group practice will be required. 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Method of Assessment:

Students will receive 25% of their grade y March 16, 2018

1) Testing - 40%

 Large Ensembles:

 Students will be tested through a combination of in-class and public performances (i.e. the final concert). Testing will take place in small groups, and will involve excerpts from the repertoire studied during the term. The composition of test groups will be determined by the instructor toward the end of each term, and will depend on the repertoire performed and the distribution of students registered for the course. Tests will normally occur during scheduled rehearsal time(s) and may be taped to provide a permanent record. Students will be expected to perform the test material without mistakes, to reflect the musical instruction provided during rehearsals, and to demonstrate fluency in all of the ensemble skills: listening; tuning; balance; blend; musicality; style; and rhythmic, dynamic and phrasal flexibility.  

Due to the ensembles imminent move to Wilson Hall, specific concert date(s) are currently TBD, but will take place during a Tue evening rehearsal time within the last three weeks of class (i.e. Nov 22-Dec 6 in term 1; Mar 21-April 4 in term 2).

(2 tests @ 20% each = 40%)

2) Participation - 20%

Each student's willingness to accept direction, and his/her efforts to incorporate the instructor's suggestions into his/her performance at each rehearsal and concert will be appraised. Because of the co-operative and experiential nature of these courses, irregular attendance by any student is seriously detrimental to the progress of his/her ensemble. If a student must miss a rehearsal, s/he is expected to inform the instructor (or his/her representative) before the expected absence. Frequent absences, either excused or in excused, will directly affect a student's skill development, and will be reflected in his/her grade for this component.

3) Preparation/Progress - 40%

At each rehearsal, specific assignments for individual practice will be given. Appraisal of each student's success in this area will be based on his/her ability to easily perform his/her individual parts, and to adapt to the give-and-take of ensemble rehearsing.

Students are expected to learn the assigned music quickly, and to demonstrate continuous progress in all the skills that are appropriate to their ensemble (listening, tuning, balance, blend, musicality, style, rhythmic, dynamic and phrasal flexibility.)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Preparation:  Adequate preparation of individual parts is essential to the success of the ensemble.  Weekly rehearsals are a time for the ensemble to rehearse as an ensemble, not for individuals to rehearse individual parts.  Therefore it is expected members of this ensemble will put in sufficient practice time so as to arrive prepared for weekly rehearsals.  Rehearsal measures and guidance tempos will be provided on a weekly basis to help clarify expectations. 

Attendance and Punctuality: By enrolling in the course you are making a commitment to be ready to play in all rehearsals on Tuesday evenings and the dress rehearsals on the Monday evenings detailed in the “Concerts” section below.  As an official university academic course, your other professors should not require to you write exams during this time, and you are expected to be able to attend each and every week. 

Please be respectful of your peers and your professors.  While attendance and punctuality are important to any successful class, it is essential to performing ensembles.  We cannot rehearse effectively without the entire ensemble, so by missing, arriving late, or coming unprepared to a rehearsal you are hurting not only yourselves but also your peers.  Chronic issues of attendance and tardiness will not be tolerated, and will be reflected in final grades or dismissal from the group under extreme circumstances.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Other Course Information:

Equipment:  Musical instruments are expensive, and we are fortunate that the university is able to provide a great deal of percussion equipment.  Much of this is old and fragile, and needs to be treated with a great deal of care.  Be careful when moving instruments to lift the wheels over doorstops, avoid unnecessary “twisting” and pressure on marimba frames, refrain from bumping into doors and walls, etc. 

All students must own a minimum of 2 black hand towels for use in the ensemble.  These should not be towels used for other purposes (e.g. washing dirty hands).  Towels can be purchase from local stores at a nominal cost.

Concert Dress:  The percussion ensemble performs in concert black – an affordable and comfortable alternative to wearing tuxedos.  All members of the ensemble should acquire a black shirt/blouse, dress pants (no jeans!) and shoes.  Suitable clothing can be obtained from a variety of local retailers.