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Masterworks of Western Music 

Personal Cultural Narrative Essay Assignment and Outline

 Grading: 100 possible points – 30 for writing, 65 for content, 5 at my discretion. It should be 6-7 pages, double spaced in size 12 font; may be longer if you wish. The essay is due on the last day of class (NOT at the Final Exam!) and must be submitted on paper.

Write a personal narrative essay about your aesthetic and cultural life. Include music as a focal point at the various stages of your life thus far. This essay should include:

1. Family cultural background, history and influences; can also include influential teachers and leaders of organizations in which you participate. Trace the flow of the music of your life from your early years onward!

2. Personal culture, emphasizing the way you listen to and incorporate music into your life now.

3. Responses to three of the works studied this semester, plus (total of four works.) How do these pieces now inform your sense of music? What possible musical interests might you explore in the future? Each work response should be a full half-page paragraph long.

To get started, make a list of those who have helped you become the cultural being that you are. A complete discussion of music in your life, from the earliest time you can remember through the present should be at least 1/2 of the essay. 

Take this opportunity to delve into your own cultural history and background. Trace your family roots as far back as you can go, including country/ies of origin. Talk to relatives if you have access to them (this has proven to be very insight-provoking to some students in past semesters.) Include people such as teachers, other community, national or world leaders,  and artists of any type, and friends who have had an influence on your own cultural choices. Include your participation, involvement in and appreciation of any cultural and arts-related fields such as visual arts, theatre, dance, writing, sewing, cooking, and crafting of objects of many kinds. The ways in which music affects your life should be a substantial discussion topic within the essay.

This outline is intended to help you organize your thoughts and ideas for your essay.  A discussion of music in your life should be at least half the essay. 

I. Infancy and preschool – What music was played to you by family, relatives and caregivers? Other cultural events and influences…

II. Grade school – What music or other cultural activities? Did you participate in cultural activities at school or on after school or weekend programs?

III. Middle school – What music or other cultural activities? Did you participate in cultural activities at school or at after school or weekend programs?  Who influenced your choices – teachers, family, community leader and/or friends?

IV. High school – Friends, family, teachers or other leaders who influenced your cultural identity and activities; and interests that you developed on your own!

V. The present – what is your cultural life like here at college?

VI. Write a substantial paragraph about three works of your choice from the semester, plus , for a total of four paragraphs.

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