Faculty of Fine Arts

Department of Music
Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk & Rap
FA/MUSI 1520 6.0



Actual emails from real students in their own words:


    1. "Does the material I need to study for Test 2 exclude material for Test 1?"

    The three tests exclusively cover three sections of the course: Test 1 covers the first 5 classes; Test 2 covers Doo Wop and the 1960s and Test 3 the 1970s.

    2. "How are the tests conducted?"

    The tests are listening tests with multiple choice questions. Your answers go onto a Scantron sheet. There are typically ten songs played almost in their entirety back-to-back. The songs are played one after the other with about a 5 second gap between each.

    3. "What if I get to the test late, would you play the songs I missed?"

    We cannot guarantee this.

    4. "If I can't make the test in my section, can I take the test in another section?"

      Yes, if there is another section. Currently there is only one section of the course.

    5. "What if I miss a test can I write the test again a few days later?"

    No. There are no make-up tests in FA/MUSI 1520. If you miss a test, you will not get a chance to write that test again and receive a mark of zero. Students with very significant, documented reasons for missing a test may get a chance to write a possible 15-page Essay at the end of the year.

    6. "What material would 15-page Essay cover?"

    The Essay topics is decided at the end of the year.

    7. "What is the format of Tests 1 - 3?"

    Test 1 - 10 questions

    For each song you must know the Artist, Song name, Year of release, Style and 1 or 2 Context questions.

    Test 2 - 10 questions

    Same as above with the addition of Record Label and an additional Context question.

    Test 3 - 11 questions

    Same as Test 2 except an additional song with up to 20 context questions.

    8. "For record labels, sometimes it says just Motown, but other times Motown/Tamla or Motown/Gordy. Is it okay if we only know 'Motown' or do we have to know exactly Motown/Tamla or Motown/VIP, etc.?"

    Since these are all departments and sub-labels of Motown, the answer Motown would be sufficient to receive the full marks.

    9. "For some songs it says Diana Ross & The Supremes and other's just The Supremes. Is it okay if we ONLY write The Supremes?"

    No. You must write the correct name from the song listing to get the mark.

    10. "I want to review my tests. Can I see the Scantron sheets? "

    The Scantron sheets look exactly as they were when you handed them in. There is very little to see or review. We take a position that the York University scantron marking system is accurate and there is very little to be gained by challenging those marking computers.


1. "I'm in your intro music class in I wasn't able to make it to lecture on Wednesday because I was accompanying my father to a pre-operative appointment at St. Michaels hospital. Can I still receive the attendance mark since this is a medical emergency and my dad has no way to get to the hospital?"

2. "I was present at the lecture this week; however, I had to leave early due to a doctor's appointment and was unable to sign the attendance sheet. The attendance sheet was not circulating as fast as it should have been. I was wondering if you can give me the attendance mark anyway."

Attendance marks are for actually attending the class. Once the class is over, the attendance register cannot be amended – regardless of the circumstances surrounding your absence.

3. "I attended every class yet I received 0% for attendance. I am very upset and need to speak to you about this right away. Is there a time when I can meet with you on Wednesday?"

A signature is on each attendance register next to your name - that is correct. However, there are several significant variations in your signature. In teh judgement of the course director, all these signatures could not have been made by the same student. You therefore forfeit your attendance mark due to attendance fraud. We have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy towards attendance fraud.

4. "I was not enrolled in the course until the fourth week. Will this hinder my otherwise perfect attendance record?"

You will not receive attendance marks for not attending a class. If your signature is not on the attendance register for a particular day, you won't be credited due to late enrollment. In this case you will lose some marks for the days you did not attend.


1. "Is there a suitable time that I can come and speak with you? Do you have scheduled office hours?"

No. The best time to speak to the instructor is directly after the end of the lecture. I do not keep regular office hours. The course office is at Room 354A in Accolade East.


1. "I am a student in your FA/MUSI 1520 section A.  I enrolled in the course on September 19 and missed the first two lectures.  I am trying to study for the test on Wednesday; however, I do not have any of the songs that were covered in the first two lectures.  Could you please send a list of the songs covered in those lectures so I can study and prepare for the test."

2. "I missed the class this morning as I had an appointment to attend to, but I was just wondering if you could give me the list of songs which were played in class and also anything I should read to catch myself up again?"

We do not compile lists of songs played in class for dispersal after the lecture. Please ask a fellow student for these notes.

3. "I feel like a jerk asking you this but I missed class on the 15th because my alarm didn't wake me and on the 6th because of a funeral. I was wondering if it was possible for you to send me any notes or pointers you might have mentioned about the test."

4. "I was wondering if there is any way I could access a copy of the notes from today's lecture, or at least the songs that were listened to so that I may listen to them as well."

The lecture is given once and is not re-issued later via email. In this case, consult a fellow student for the class notes.

5. "I am having difficulty finding the songs we did in class on the net (Kazza). I was wondering if you know any good music search engines that i can find these songs. I have tried many and still no luck. HELP!!! I know that the library is an option however, i would like to make my own copies of the songs."

6. "Where can we find the songs we have listened to in class, so as to study for the upcoming test??? "

The University does not have the rights to make these songs available to each student. You can use resources at the Library to access a lot of the music covered in the course. Also, you can find most of the songs on YouTube.


1. "Just wondering, I want to know how I should classify "hit the road jake", and "unchain my heart", by Ray Charles.  I know they are not jazz, but that seems to be closer than blues, or soul would be."

Be very careful with your spelling. It is 'Hit the Road Jack' not Jake. Mispelled answers on the tests will result in a mark of zero. Styles are better handled by memorizing the definition rather than trying to memorize the style of each song. Pay special attention to the section of the lecture where the style is described.

2. "In studying for the test, i found that many of the Motown songs were a combination of both pop and soul. Would i be required to write both genres on the test. Is motown a genre?"

3. "Do pop-soul, Motown, R&B count as styles?"

The ‘style’ component of a test requires a single style to be denoted and not a combination of styles. Motown is not a style. Pop is a chart achievement and not a style.

4. "On the exam, do we have to know what different types of music each song is OR do we just classify the artist overall? For Ray Charles would it be correct to assume that he is a Blues artist??"

The ‘style’ component of a test applies to the song you are listening to and not the artist. Many of the artists we listen to are capable of performing multiple styles. For example, Billie Holiday have many recorded songs that are Jazz and others that are Blues. If you hear a Blues song from her you must write “Blues” even though she is known primarily as a Jazz artist.


1. "I got a flat tire on the way to this morning's class and ended up not being able to show up. I just want to double check that next week the journals are due, and there is the second listening test. Could you let me know if this is correct?"

Due dates are listed on the website and in your handout. If there is a change it will be announced in class and then posted on this website. There is no need to double-check due dates. They are decided and mentioned from the first week of the course.


1. "Due to a family emergency my whole family is going to India. I am unable to hand my assignment to you in person, however i have attached it in this email. however, when i come back i will provide you with the printed copy and a documentation."

The Journal cannot be submitted via email because you are responsible for the way it is presented [not us]. In special cases, you can obtain special permission to submit your journal via email providing the paper version does not differ from the emailed assignment.

2. "I forgot to hand in my partitipation assignment in class. Can I email it to you?"

No. Participation assignments are to be handed in by the end of class and cannot be submitted via email.


1. "I wanted to write you a quick e-mail to let you know that I was unable to write today's exam because I have been infected with food poisoning. I have a doctors note that I can give to you next week, when can I write a make up test?"

2. "I am from your Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk & Rap...  I cannot make it to the test tomorrow due to the fact that i have bronchitis.  The doctor told me to stay home for a week when i went to see her today.  I also have a doctors note that i can show next class.  I will try and make it but tomorrow but it looks unlikely that it will happen due to the fact that I had to drag my self out of bed to go to the doctor today.  I hope that you won't penialize me for this because I really want to make it tomorrow but i know it definately won't happen.  Please be sympathic."

3. "I'm writing to inform you about my absence from your section A class this morning and the mid term test. Due to an ongoing sickness, which also resulted in my absence from lecture last week, I was unable to attend class and the writing of the mid term."

4. "I am very sick at the time and will not be able to take the test due to my excessive coughing. I was wondering if i could do a make-up test or if my marks will be transferred to my next test if i provide a doctor's note."

5. "Dear Sir, I have just come down with stomach flu. I have a doctor note to bring to class next week. I am not going to make the test this morning. I will like to do a make up test."

There are no makeup exams in FA1520. We cannot re-run the tests as they are one-time listening tests. You must be present early on the day of the test and under no circumstances miss a test. In extreme circumstance, due to severe illness and supported by an authentic doctor’s not, students will be eligible to write a 15-page Essay at the end of the year to make up for a missed test.


1. "My Aunt just passed away the night before the exam. I need to go to her funeral today. Therefore I cannot make attend the test. Can I write it next week?"

2. "My aunt had a heart-attack yesterday and I have to travel toWindsor to go to her funeral. Can I be excused from this exam? Thanks for your inderstanding at this time of crisis."

3. "I can't make it to class to day for the test because my Aunt just got run over by a tracktor on her farm in Owen Sound. Can I write this exam later on next week maybe? I am really very upset and depressed and cannot concentrate on school work. Our entire family will have to travel to Perry Sound to attend the funeral on the same day as the test."

4. "Hi professor William. I am in your Wednesday night class at 7pm. I just received bad news from India that my Aunt was elctrokuted in a driving accident. My family is going to India tomorrow to attend her funeral. So I cannot make the test. I will bring airline tickets to you to prove that I am not going to be in the country. I will need to write the test later as I am very upset and trembling over this trageddy."

5. "My Aunt is in intensive care in St Michael's hopital and went into a coma from a heart attach she suffered on yesterday. i know the test is today and i know you don't like excuses but i have to be watching her around the clock as she is very serious condition. i cannot write the test today. Can i get credited for the test anyway? I would be ready to do it byt i am very upset and tramatized now. i can bring in a doctor note to show you next week."

6. "A neighbors pitbull attacked my Aunt on Sunday causing her to have a heart attck. I cannot write the second test on Wednesday because I am just really uncomfortable and can't think about school right now. Can I write an essay or another assignement instead of the test wednesday? I just have to help with the funeral of my Aunt. Please understand my condition sir. My aunt helped raise me and I am very close to her. I am very shattered like glass right now"

Please do not use the 'my Aunt is dead' excuse. This is by far the most common excuse used by students missing tests. If you use this excuse you will be sure to get a mark of zero.

Lately, Food Poisening and Stomach Flu have become very popular excuses. Please be professional about your University career and prepare for the test and stop getting these phony doctor's notes.


1. "I am unable to complete the assignment by the deadline stipulated, due to circumstances beyond my control. My intention is to submit my assignment no later than next week Wednesday, - one week late. I would like to know where to drop off my assignment."

Assignments are to be submitted to the music office in Accolade East - Room 371. Submissions made to the office are time-stamped the date they are received. Ensure that you arrive before the office is closed at 4:00PM. Submissions made after the office closes will be automatically stamped as received on the next business day. Avoid sliding your assignment under doors or into any unattended offices.

2. "I am doing my journal on the computer and I am wondering if each entry shoud be double spaced?"

This is entirely your decision.


Please DO NOT USE 3-ring binders for your journal. We need your journal to be well bound and submitted with a professional presentation.

1. "I noticed that many people handed in journals that were decorated and complete with binders, drawings, and visual images. I joined the class late and missed the first day when the journals were more thoroughly explained, was this suppose to be an additional requirement, or was this optional, and does it effect my mark if I didn't include visual drawings?"

This is entirely your decision. Naturally, a journal that demonstrates hard work will tend to get a better mark that one that show very basic attention.

2. "I am in your Rhythm and blues, soul, funk and rap class, and I was wondering if its alright for the journal to be a notebook, or do the TA's prefer loose leaf papers in a binder?"

This is entirely your decision. Keep in mind that the journal must be well presented.

3. "Good day, my name is ---- I am a student in your wednesday 8:30am Rhythm and Blues course and I wanted to ask you a couple questions about our journals. Firstly, is it mandatory to have all the information such as chart peak position and release date listed for all 150 songs?"

This is your journal and you must take responsibility for its content.

4. "Secondly, a couple of the songs I wrote about were studied in class today so I was worried that I would not be able to submit the same songs with my journal. Is this so?"

5. "Is it alright to use songs listened to in class, and if it is alright, how many are we allowed to use?"

6. "I am currently in your Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk & Rap class and i have a question dealing with the Listening Journal.  My question is whether we are allowed to use songs that are played in class in our journals."

You will not be credited for songs that are listed on the song exclusion list. These songs are most likely going to be played in class. Please avoid them.

7. "Are we able to use the song book we received in class to help us with our journals since it has a lot of information in it such as record labels and release dates?"


8. "I have a question about the music journal we're supposed to do. Do you want all songs by the same artist all on one page? Or can they be scattered throughout the journal?"

This is your decision.

9. "I'm a little confused as to what general comments I am to make. Am I suppose to talk about the structure of the song or more about the emotion behind it?"

10. "I have a concern about the Listening journals in that I am not exactly sure what I should be writting about.  Do you want a musical critique, an emotional respose (with explanations), a historical placement, or any combination of the above?  I find myself writting a fair bit and not really having any idea if I am learning or rather experiencing what I should be.  Any focus you could provide would be greatly appreciated."

Write about your feelings when you hear the song. We DO NOT need music reviews or biographical information. This is a personal journal and the write up is expected to be uniquely yours.

11. "I would like to know for the listening journal, for the release date, would it be the release date of the song, or the cd the song came off of?"

This should be the initial release date of the song.

12. "How many songs from one artist can we write about in our journals?"

13. "Is it possible to use more than one song for a certain artist with out being penalized?"

14. "i'm in your music class this is just about the journal, can i do different songs from the same artist? or is that not allowed?"

Remember to distribute the content of your Journal among many artists. Including 20 songs from your favourite artist will not help your journal. But it is certainly expected that you will have more than one song from many artists.

15. "I am recently listening to Ray Charles' "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music". Can I write journal entries based on this CD, even though the songs are in country or western style?"

Absolutely. The journal should cover music by African-American artists up to and including 1990, this can include any musical style.

16. "The reason why I am writing this e-mail to you is because i was unable to attend your class this morning because of certain circumstances. However, I would like to get the notes that I missed in class today as well as the attendance mark that goes with attending class. To ensure that I get both things, I am going to attend your lecture tonight (Oct. 1) and get my notes as well as write my name on the attendance along with my student number. It would be greatly appreciated if you could count this as part of my attendance."

There are 2 classes on Wednesday. If you cannot make the morning class, you can attend the evening classes and append your name to the attendance register. Please remember to denote that you are registered for another section. You will be credited for the attendance mark.

17. "Is it okay if i use a year as a release date, or does it have to include the month and day? For example, for Nat King Cole, you had on the PowerPoint Mona Lisa - 1950, would that be the release date?"

This is your decision.

18. "I just have a very brief question in regrards to out Journal assignments. Is there a sample or template that you can show me, just as an example, as to just what around you are looking for in one journal entery."

There is no sample journal available. You have to inject your own personality and creativity and not rely on the formatting of others as a guide.

19. "Can I use groups that have African-American members as well as Caucasian members?"


20. "How should sources be cited? Do you want a works cited page at the end of the journal?"

This is not necessary for the Journal.

21. "I was just wondering if it would be alright to hand in my music journals in the afternoon class instead of in the morning class."

This is perfectly acceptable.


1. "I unexpectedly had to go to Kingston this weekend for a funeral, and my train doesn't get back into Toronto until tomorrow morning at 11:15am.  So I might be able to get to York in time to hand in my listening journal.  If I'm a couple minutes late, is there anywhere that I can drop the journal off to?  I'm not sure if you have an office or a mail box." 

You cannot submit the Journal at the Music Office anymore. It must be submitted and signed for in class.

2. "I am in your R&B, Soul, Funk and Rap class and was wondering what the penalty was for students that hand in a journal one day late."

3. "I was wondering if you could tell me what the late penalty for the music journals are per day."

The late penalty is ZERO. The journal cannot be submitted late. It will absolutely not be accepted and you will receive a mark of zero for this component.


1. "Due to medical reasons, I have been unable to attend class for the past few weeks and was unable to complete the remaining entries for my journal which as you know was to be submitted this past Wednesday. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to contact before today since my internet connection has been down for the past three days. Ultimately, the reason I am writing is to request some form of extension for this project, if this at all possible."

2. "My mother was admitted to the hospital yesterday and I was there all night. Can I hand in the journal tomorrow without a deduction? Please understand my situation."

There are no excuses that can prevent a late penalty for a journal submitted after the due date. The assignment is given out in September and is due in February. Therefore no unforeseen incident can justify a late submission. All pleas for a waiver of this late deduction will be denied.

If you sense disaster about to strike remember there are courier services that operate in the GTA that can take your journal to the York Music Office.


1. "I had a serious problem with my computer today and lost a substanial block of memory containing a large part of my music journals. I have completed all of them and am sending them to you now. I know they were supposed to be handed in durning class, but I have been working on repairing it for the last eight and a half hours. If you require a hard copy, please contact me at your earliest convience and I will get one to you as soon as possible. Again I appolagize for submitting my journal this may, but it could not be avoided."

2. "my name is ---- and i've written to you before but you probably don't remember anyway i'm writing to ask for an extension on the listening journals. i know it's late and i know i'm probably not the first person to ask but 2 days ago on monday my computers system 32 folder crashed and i had to have somebody format my computer and i lost my songs and entries and i didn't have the internet so i got records and cds and tapes to try to do this. i would have asked for an extension as soon as it happened but i seriously thought that i could have it done in time, because the story sounds made up and like every other excuse you've heard i didn't really think you would believe me. but really if i could have this extension i would be soo greatful so very very greatful. but if not then that's okay too i will hand in the little bit that i have done to the lady on the second floor so she can stamp it for the ta's to get them. but again i know it's late and i should have written earlier but i really thought that i could have it done."

To avoid unfortunate incidents like these, make a backup copy of your journal. Computer problems that cause a delay in the journal will result in late deductions.


1. "I emailed you on tuesday about a possible one day extension for thursday 27, because of the 62 journals I lost in computer problems from the switch over of programs. I hate to do this but I need at least the weekend to finish the deleted journals. I thought I could finish them up in a couple days, but between work, school and other exams this week, it has been impossible. I am already stressed as it is, and have found no time to spare to make up the journals this week, however if you were to give me until monday, I am confident I can make up the lost journals, and do an excellent job. I know that this sounds like I am making excuses for myself, but I honestly been busy around the clock, and have had a hard time finishing up the rest of the journals."

There are no extensions given in FA1520 period.

2. "I am emailing you because I have a request to make. These next couple of weeks are extremely busy for me in terms of projects and assignments for my core courses. I was wondering if you might consider giving me a slight extension on my journals. I just need some extra time to cope with everything and still be able to wrap up the last of my journals nicely."

There are no extensions given in FA1520 period. To be honest you don't really need it. You have 120 days to do the assignment, that's more than enough.


1. "I received a good mark on the journal (84%), I just wanted to know where I lost marks."

You don’t ‘lose’ marks from your journal as this would suggest that your journal begins with a mark of 100 and marks deducted. Your journal begins with a mark of 0 and marks are added.

2. "I have a quick question regarding the marking scheme for the listening journal. Is there a better chance of getting a higher mark if I do more than the minimum, or are the journals marked strictly on quality?"

The journal marking is a combination of many factors. You can include 300 songs and receive a mark of 65% while someone else could include 160 songs and receive 75%. Quantity is important but it does not make or break a journal. The most important part of your journal is the write up portion.

3. "I recieved my Journal back today and I was not satisfied with the mark that I recieved. The person who marked it wrote in my journal that I did not have a table of contents, which I did have but when I got my journal back it was not in it. This person also said that my journal was difficult to read, but I disagree with that as well. As a result of these two comments I recieved a 58.5%, despite the fact that I had 128 songs, the genre of music for each song, where each song charted, the composers of each song, my thoughts & comments about each song, and the record label as well. I hope you can help me with this because I was expecting to get an 'A' on this assignment since I put a lot of effort into it."

Everyone expects that their Journal deserves an A. You can resubmit your journal for remarking as long as you agree to accept that the mark may go up or down.


1. "I was unable to attend class today because of prayers all morning for my religious holiday, eid. I will be attending family functions from the afternoon through to the evening. I have completed the journals and will have them in your drop box first thing Thursday morning."

We try to avoid having any assignment due date coincide with a religious holiday. If the journal is due on a religious holiday, please ensure that it is handed in prior to the due date. Remember, this assignment is handed out 5 months before its due date.


1. "I did not get interviewed for class participation. I assure you that I have done my share of participation as I tried to add a comment as often as possible. Therefore, I wonder what will be done in a situation such as this."

If you missed the class where this occurs email a photograph of your face so that we can assess your participation.


1. "Dear Sir, I sent you and email asking to confirm the test is tomorrow and I haven't received a response. Can you please confirm this?"

2. "I wonder if you received my email as I have not gotten a response from you. I know you are busy, but can you explain the Journal assignment for me?"

3. "I sent you an email last week to get a list of the songs you played at the lecture, but I have not received a response. Can you please tell me what songs were played at the lecture?"

Email is a privilege and not a right. You do not have the right to demand email response from me of questions that are covered by the contents of this website. Instructors have private lives and private time that are not connected to York University. Instructors are not on call 24/7 to answer email. Emails that concern "special circumstances" and issues not covered on the website will get priority for responses.


1. "When will I find out my mark on the last listening test?"

2. "I wanted to know when we will be able to receive our final grades for the course.  I would really appreciate if I can get it asap, as the grade for this course is the deciding factor for continuance in my program.  Thank you."

3. "Since I finished all my exams I have been very anxious to know how I did. I was wondering if you could please tell me my final mark for the course, so I could finally stop worrying."

The final marks for a course the size of FA1520 takes at least 4 weeks to complete. These marks will not be ready until the first week in May.

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