Program Notes Must Be Turned in Two Weeks Prior to a Concert!
Program Note Assignments
For each concert, each student must write program notes for one piece on the concert. The best program notes for each piece will be included in the program. The concert band performs three concerts each year, therefore each student will be required to write three program notes.
PROGRAM NOTES MUST BE TURNED IN TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO A CONCERT!
What are program notes?
When a listener goes to a concert, they are often given information about the piece they are about to perform through program notes. The program notes are not a stiff, academic paper but are a written in a straight-forward, conversational style to give the listener something to “grasp onto” during the performance. Conversational does not mean using texting terms or common slang. It is proper writing in the third person but should not be too “academic.” Big words do not always make something better!
Program notes give the audience an idea about what they are about to hear and inform the audience of the history of the piece and composer.
What do program notes contain?
The simple answer: program notes give the audience an idea about what they are about to hear and inform the audience of the history of the piece and composer.
What is the format for program notes?
Each person’s style will probably be a little bit different, but generally program notes start with information about the composer and the history of the piece and then discuss the piece itself.
How long should the program notes be?
Program notes can be as long as 2000 words, but generally they are between 400-1000 words.
What about using musical terms if this is for the average person?
At times you may need to use musical terms, if you use a musical term, for example “Coda,” explain what that term means. Don’t leave your readers in the dark.
Do I have to cite sources?
You do not have to cite sources in program notes. The only need for a citation would be if you are using a direct quote, but then you just close the quote with the information about where the quote came from; no bibliography needed.
So I can just pull stuff off of Wikipedia and the internet?
No that is plagarism. I have Google. I will check if I feel that you may have plagarized. I know of, or own, most of the print sources you would use, I can check. Save us all the hassle and just don’t do it. I take plagarism very seriously. If you are unsure if what you are doing is plagarism or not, just ask.
Basic Format for Program Notes
Title of Piece (Publication Date)
Composer Name (b. ####, place of birth – d.####, place of death)
Paragraph 1 – Basic introduction to piece and composer information.
Paragraph 2 – History of piece.
Paragraph 3 – Explanation of piece.
Make Sure to Include the Following About the Composer
- Composer’s Full Name
- Birth date and place
- Death date and place
- Educational history (colleges and degrees)
- Work history
- Teachers and influences
- Other compositions (did he/she only write for winds?)
- Awards received
- Know a short biography of his/her life
- Include interesting facts
Make Sure to Include the Following About the Piece
- Publication Date
- Basic formal structure
- Keys used
- Any information about the piece provided by the composer
- Does the title have a pertinent meaning?
- Is the music all original or is it based off of other music?
- If folk songs are used, what are the words and the stories?
- Is there a dedication for the piece?
- How would you describe each section of the work? (adjectives)
- Where is the climax in the music?
- Is the price programmatic? What is the story if it is?
- What should a listener pay attention to?
What else should I include?
A picture of the composer is required to be included. If the piece is based off something and you can find an appropriate picture that would also be acceptable.
Rubric for Scoring Program NotesTopic / 5 pts / 4 pts / 3 pts. / 1 pts. / 0 pts.
Composer Information / Student had the required information and went beyond what was asked for. / Student had the required information. / Student included slightly less than what was required. / Only a small amount of the required information was included. / Information not present.
Music Information / Student had the required information and went beyond what was asked for. / Student had the required information. / Student included slightly less than what was required. / Only a small amount of the required information was included / Information not present.
Format / The prescribed format was used. / The prescribed format was lightly followed. / The prescribed format was not used.
Correct Length / The program notes were between 400-2000 words. / The program notes were less than 400 words or over 2000 words.
Grammar and Spelling / There were no grammar or spelling errors. / There were1-5 grammar or spelling errors. / There were6-10 grammar or spelling errors. / There were10-20 grammar or spelling errors. / There were more than 21grammar or spelling errors.
Style / The style of writing was conversational and flowed well. / The style of writing was conversational and flowed well. / The style of writing was conversational but did not flow well. / The style of writing was not conversation and was hard to read. / There was a lack of style present.
Picture / A picture of the composer and an additional picture pertaining to the piece of music was included / A picture of the composer was included. / No picture was included.