Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Craig Sheppard
Seattle Campus


For music majors.

Class description

There are 11 weeks of instruction during the Fall quarter, 2012. Normally, Music 326/327/328 is a general survey of piano repertoire over the past 300 years. This year, however, marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy. As such, our School of Music is focusing on Debussy's music to a great extent, including three programs in Brechemin Auditorium highlighting different areas of Debussy's varied musical output. In addition, I will be giving a recital in Meany Theater on October 23rd of the 24 Debussy Preludes. Therefore, our first four weeks of the Fall quarter will be taken up with a study of these great works, works which you will wish to put into your recital programs in the future. From the fifth week onward, we will go back to Bach, doing the six Partitas and the Goldberg Variations. We will then move on to Scarlatti and Handel for the remainder of the quarter.

Student learning goals

Greater awareness of each composer's general output.

Greater understanding of the keyboard works in that output, and why the composer would have decided to put his/her energy into that medium.

Greater understanding of the world and culture in which each composer lived. In the case of Debussy, we will concentrate on his influence by the Symbolist poets and painters. With Bach, we will concentrate on his birthplace, Eisenach, and the confluence of cultures that transpired there.

Greater understanding of the geography and even geopolitics that gave the composer his/her background.

How the composers differ from each other stylistically, and the elements (compositional, instrumental)that made this possible.

General method of instruction

Dates and history are extremely important. Did you know that Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti were all born the same year? Two of them were born within perhaps fifty miles of each other. In addition to dates, I often bring a map of Europe to my classes. Geography, and the ability to understand the composers within a broader historical context (i.e., what was happening in Europe at that time) is invaluable toward understanding what and how they wrote.

My lectures are mostly spontaneous, and it is a good thing if you can take notes while I'm talking. This is especially relevant for the mid-term and final exams. Things such as Opus numbers are particularly important. Musicians do not, for instance, refer to a Mozart concerto as #27, but rather K.595. Nor do we say 'Beethoven Sonata #4, but rather 'Beethoven Opus 7'! This sort of training is very important for you, as it will give you a better idea of when the pieces were both composed and published during the composer's lifetime (these two things were not always in sync).

Recommended preparation

The only general way you can prepare for this course is to come in with an attitude that your parameters regarding the piano literature are about to be vastly expanded.


Class assignments and grading

This quarter, you will each read Paul Roberts' excellent biography, 'Claude Debussy' (available through and write a lengthy book report, due on the last day of exams. We will discuss the parameters of this book report during the first class on September 27th. In addition to this, you will be given a weekly list of pieces to listen to (frequently available on youtube), from which you will write a small paragraph about each listening segment, giving a short background of the piece, and (importantly) you reaction to the way it's played on the clip you've just listened to. Your critiques should reflect your increasing knowledge of the medium! From past experience, students have enjoyed these particular assigments very much, and have gained enormously from writing about them.

I put a lot of emphasis on class participation. The energy each and every one of you brings to that class (even at 3:30 in the afternoon, after a long hard day) is as important to me as what I see on paper every week from your assignments. I am always delighted when a student brings in a salient piece of information about a composer that I have either not known about, or forgotten to mention. We're all here to learn!

Therefore, 30% of the grade will consist of class participation and your weekly listening assignments.

20% will consist of the mid-term (October 25th).

20% your book report.

And 30% your final exam. The final exam will consist of a mixture of written answers regarding the lives of the composers (including history, dates and geography), plus listening examples. So KEEP ON TOP OF THOSE WEEKLY LISTENING ASSIGNMENTS!!!

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Craig Sheppard
Date: 08/11/2012