Archive for March, 2011

Tackling the Beast That Is a Research Paper

Monday, March 21st, 2011

When you are assigned a length research paper, you can immediately feel overwhelmed. As soon as the due date is posted on the wall your mind can go through the wringer stressing on how you will find the time to put in the necessary work to achieve the grade you desire. However, if you are able to stop at this moment and take a deep breath and climb this mountain one step at a time, you will find that this assignment can be almost enjoyable. First you need to fully understand what is being asked of you. By knowing all of the different parts you can easily divide up your project in chunks, tackling one small battle at a time, as oppose to taking on a big war by yourself. You just need to go into the process with a calm mindset. Read everything your professor has presented to you. Make sure you understand everything and fully get what is being asked of you, and then if there are any holes that need to fill in raise your hand in class or visit your professor during his or her office hours. Sometimes the questions you may have are the same for other students.

When have finally settled in to your comfortable and cozy library chair and have the laptop open, fully charged and ready for your fingers to punish its keyboard, now is the time when you have to let all of the thoughts that going around in your head like a cyclone rollercoaster, go. You need to not worry, and be intimated by the blank page that is starting right back you. Let your first draft come from your heart and then you can go back revise again with your brain. If this is not possible without your favorite songs on your iPod playing, then plug in those headphones and turn the library into a concert hall. You want to find the best situation you can that will give you the opportunity to not let your mind drift off into thinking about how long of road you have ahead of you. Be precise in your statements, and ensure that all of your sources are reliable. You are not in a race, so there is no need to take a shortcut. As long as you begin your paper early on in the game, you should have ample time to complete your assignment. Just like many things in life, sometimes it is the mental battle that can be the toughest part of any task.

The 50 Best Blogs for Music Theory Students

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Music theory examines the very essence of music, from how it functions to the elements of which it is composed. Knowing about music theory is essential not only to gain a better understanding of music, but to make a career as a musician, music teacher or academic in the field, especially if you want to go on to get a master’s degree or other higher degree. Here you’ll find a great collection of blogs that will let you learn more about music theory, from the absolute basics to innovative ways to apply these ideas to composing and performance.

General

These blogs touch on a number of great music theory ideas and topics.

  1. musi[cube]theory: This blogger is a music teacher, sharing teaching materials that can help students learn concepts that are essential to music theory and performance.
  2. Music Theory: Looking to learn the basics of music theory? This site is an excellent place to start.
  3. Learn Theory of Music Blog: From choosing the right instrument to understanding the fundamentals of music, you’ll find a wide range of articles here.
  4. Theory in a Box: Theory in a Box is a music theory software program that students young and old can use to learn more about music theory. On their blog, you’ll be able to read about school using the programs, news and much more.
  5. Learning and Loving Music Theory: Find free lessons and resources in music theory through this blog.
  6. InTune: Not everything on this blog is pure music theory, but it’s an excellent place to learn more about composition, arranging and playing music.

Instrument Specific

Focusing on instruments like the piano and guitar, these blogs will teach you about music theory as it applies to each.

  1. Play Piano: This blog is a good place to look if you’re trying to better understand the chords and progressions of piano music.
  2. Learn Guitar Music Theory: Here you’ll find some basic lesson on the fundamentals of guitar music theory, like scales, reading music and more.
  3. Guitar Music Theory: With some great links and helpful articles, this blog can help any music theory student better study the guitar.
  4. Gibson’s Learn and Master Guitar Blog: Guitarist Steve Krenz helps performers and academics alike learn more about music made for the guitar here.
  5. From the Woodshed: Follow along as this guitarist practices, learns and shares musical discoveries here.
  6. Guitar Answers: Have a question about playing the guitar or music for the instrument? This blog may be the spot to find the answer.
  7. Basics of Music Theory: Learning the basics of music theory for the guitar is the focus for this helpful Indian blog.
  8. The Classical Guitar Blog: Find lesson, tips, tricks and interviews all about the guitar here.

Musicians and Composers

If you want to get a musician or composers take on music theory issues, give these blogs a read.

  1. Piano Kat’s Meow: This piano player and music nerd ruminates on everything from performance to music theory on this blog.
  2. Graham English: Through Graham English’s blog, you’ll find information on songwriting and recording as well as a number of music theory and criticism posts.
  3. From the Composer’s Chair: Composer Vince Lauria gives lessons in music and music theory on this blog.
  4. Roger Bourland: Roger Bourland is a composer who shares his passion for music and life on this blog.
  5. The Rambler: Learn more about modern composition and theory and hear some rare and beautiful music on this blog.
  6. Daniel Thompson-Microtonal Composer: If you’re not familiar with tuning theory and microtonal music, use this blog as a means to learn more.
  7. Richard D. Russell: Want to read about news and happenings in the world of composing? Check out this blog from composer Richard Russell.
  8. A View from the Podium: Performing musician Kenneth Woods shares what he knows about music, focused mostly on the orchestral, on this blog.
  9. Music Composition Weblog: If you have any interest in music composition, whether doing it yourself or learning how it all works, give this blog a read.
  10. I Was Doing Alright: An aspiring jazz trumpet player maintains this blog, with posts on jazz, practice and ear training.
  11. The Musician’s Blog: With posts on both performing and teaching music, this blog is a great resource for students hoping to learn more about music theory.
  12. Alphonse Nguyen: Music composition requires knowing a great deal about theory, and you’ll get to see how the process works on this composer’s blog.
  13. Laureate Conductors: Check out this blog to learn more about some of the greatest conductors and performances in music history.

Academic

Written by professors and music teachers, these blogs will help you learn about the academic side of music theory.

  1. Sonic Labyrinth: On this blog, you’ll get a chance to learn more about classical music from professor Jeffrey Johnson of the University of Bridgeport.
  2. Music Teachers Blog: Whether you teach music or just want to get insights into how music can be taught, this blog is the best resource out there.
  3. Texas Tech University Music Theory: You don’t have to go to Texas Tech to take advantage of the great music theory information listed on their blog.
  4. Berklee Music Blogs: Here you’ll find an amazing collection of blogs, with posts from music professionals, educators and faculty.
  5. Sociomusicology: Dr. David G. Herbert shares his research into society and music through this blog, with studies that can help you better understand music and music theory.
  6. Music, Education and Technology: Through this blog from the Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee College of Music, you can not only learn more about music education but the role technology has to play in it as well.
  7. Music Matters Blog: Music teachers and students alike can take advantage of the learning resources available through this blog.
  8. Music Education: This About.com guide introduces you to the basics of learning about music, from music theory to history and everything in between.

Musicology

While not focused exclusively on music theory, you’ll learn a fair amount about it as you study the history and culture surrounding music through these blogs.

  1. Amusicology: Find short but sweet posts to help you learn more about musicology here.
  2. Smooth Atonal Sound: Here, you can read the thoughts of a musicologist on a wide range of music from Mozart to the Grateful Dead.
  3. Unsung Symphonies: Learn more about some of the great symphonies of the world that have been largely ignored on this blog.
  4. On an Overgrown Path: Get thoughtful music analysis and insights into what’s worth listening to from this blog.
  5. Zeitschichten: This web magazine and blog will help you understand music in relation to politics and history.
  6. Random Classics: What is it that’s so appealing about the sound of vinyl? On this blog, you’ll be able to listen to classic tracks recorded from the medium, imperfections and all.
  7. Miss Music Nerd: Music appreciation, sharing and education are the focus of this interesting blog.

Analysis

These blogs take music theory and apply it to the real world, analyzing and criticizing compositions.

  1. Antti Sunell Music Blog: This blog will help explain great music in explicit detail — perfect for those hoping to learn more about theory.
  2. Joe Musicology: On this blog, you can read reviews of new albums and nerdy music talk.
  3. My Fickle Ears Dig It: This blogger isn’t just a music performer, but discusses theory, music school and more on this blog.
  4. Behind Ears: Read music criticism, analysis and news on this site.
  5. The Music Issue: While mainly about music, this blog delves into a wide range of pop culture issues.
  6. David R. Adler: Professor of jazz history David Adler shares his expertise and thoughts on musicians, compositions and the music world here.
  7. The Rest Is Noise: Here you’ll find the blog of the music critic of the New York Times, Alex Ross.
  8. Ethan Hein’s Blog: Author and musician Ethan Hein talks about music, math, technology and much more on this site.

Cut Online College Costs in High School

Monday, March 14th, 2011

If you are a high school student that’s considering pursuing a higher education online because you more or less already know you’ll need more flexibility post graduation—for instance maybe you have a child or you’re expecting, maybe you are aware you’ll need a fulltime job to support yourself, or maybe you will be doing a lot of traveling—it’s great that you are already worrying about your future. But while online schooling may be more convenient for some, that doesn’t mean that it’s any cheaper than a traditional college. In fact, it can be even more expensive, depending on which institution you enroll in. But did you know that you can start cutting online college cost now while just in high school? Continue reading to learn how.

The easiest way to save money is to earn college credit while in high school. There are several ways to go about this. The first is to start taking Advance Placement Exams as early as your junior year in high school. There are more than 30 subjects you can get tested on ranging anywhere from history, English, foreign languages and any of the hard sciences. You’ll have to pay a small fee to take the test, but if you make adequate scores you can test out of lower division college courses. Some students pass so many exams and earn so many credits that they technically start as "sophomores" their first year in college. You can even get the testing fee waived if you qualify which means that if you make adequate scores, technically you earned that credit entirely free. That’s a whole online class that you earned fair and square without having to pay a penny. Unfortunately not all of the colleges participate, but a whopping 90 percent do. Most students choose to enroll in both pre-advanced and advanced classes throughout high school so that they are better prepared for the advance placement exams. But even if you don’t make adequate scores and can’t claim credit, you will be eligible for a higher GPA since AP classes are graded on a 5.0 not a 4.0 GPA scale and you will be better prepared to tackle real college courses.

Another way you can claim college credit while still in high school is to enroll in dual credit courses. Just about all high schools offer these programs so that students can concurrently enroll in courses that count towards their high school diploma and their college degree. The classes are taught at the high school so it’s really convenient for you since you don’t have to drive to the nearest community college every morning. Some programs require students to pay a fee to take a dual credit course. Prices vary but are always cheaper than when registering as an actual college student. However, most dual credit courses are covered entirely by the school district, so you may actually get the opportunity earn some college credit for free. Ask your high school about their dual credit program. Please be aware that there will most likely be a application and an interview before you can be considered for dual credit.

Sell Your Online Degree during a Job Interview

Friday, March 11th, 2011

If you are considering enrolling in an online program, you’re probably really worried about how employers will perceive your diploma. Some potential employers may unfortunately pass up your resume entirely, while others may drill you with additional questions about your online education during the interviewing process. But as long as you are prepared to "sell yourself" and explain to the interviewer all of the additional benefits you received as an online student, you should land your dream job with flying colors.

The first thing you want to do is remind employers that you are a self-starter and that you are highly self-disciplined. If an interviewer asks you about your work ethic or how you stand out from the other applicants, this would be a perfect time to address how completing your program online has molded you into an independent hard-worker since you completed all of your goals with no supervision and little outside help from peers. Not everyone can do/say this. Employers value applicants who can get their work done without a lot of supervision. If you have a family or had fulltime job while pursuing your degree even better—it just demonstrates to potential employers that you can juggle and have superb time management skills. It also demonstrates that you are a go-getter and don’t let obstacles stand in your way of reaching your goals. Again, not all applicants can do/say this.

Another way that your online degree can work in your advantage is that it can show employers that you are comfortable around computers—something that most employers seek in candidates. Employers like those who have some level of proficiency in computers and technology. Here, you can discuss how your tech-savvy-ness will benefit the company becuase there won’t be any time wasted. Meaning, you will not have to be trained on how to do minor tasks on the computers and you can fix your own technological glitches. You can also say how all of those hours of video chatting, instant messaging and emailing for your online class has given you some insight into how to communicate globally.

Lastly, your potential employer may question whether your online degree has truly prepared you with the right skills. This is where you will need to make yourself really shine. Instead of regurgitating facts you learned in textbooks, a good way to show your expertise is to verbalize your future plans for the company or suggest a solution to a problem you see within in the company. For instance, maybe you could say, "Well, if I worked here, the first thing I would do is (insert solution here). My online (insert class title here) taught me that (insert knowledge here)." It will simultaneously show that you know what you’re talking about and that you are serious about working there.

Simple Grammatical Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

College papers, even ones assigned from an online professor, are expected to be flawless. While some professor’s are a little bit more lenient about structure and organization, there are some professors who are drill sergeants when it comes to making grammatical mistakes, especially simple ones. To make sure that your online professor doesn’t take off a hefty amount of points because you made a simple grammatical mistake, make sure you scan your paper and look for these typical mistakes made below.

While students should have learned about the differences between possessive and contraction words in grade school, it still seems to confuse some college students. It’s no surprise that there is still some confusion, especially with younger students who are immersed in social media and are too familiar with "netspeak." This is because those students are used to just simply writing "ur" for both the possessive and the contraction. But there is a huge difference between "your" the possessive and "you’re" the contraction. "You’re" is short for "you are" such as in "You are going with me." Without the apostrophe, it should suggest ownership, as in "Your car is parked in the garage." Students also fub on other possessive and contraction words such as "their," "there" and "they’re," and "it’s" and "its." A good way to avoid this mishap is to skip contractions all together—just so there is no confusion.

Students also have a tendency to use commas incorrectly. Typically commas represent a pause, but they should be used with a conjunction. Conjunctions are words such as "but," "so," and "therefore." However, generally students think a sentence needs a pause but they add no conjunction. For example, they may write "I went to the mall, I was running late." This particular example can be fixed in two ways. The first is to remove the comma and separate it into two complete sentences. The trick is that if the portion before and after the comma can stand as their own individual sentences then there is no need for a comma. So it should read: "I went to the mall. I was running late." Or you can use a semicolon: "I went to the mall; I was running late." You can also add a conjunction to fix the issues: "I went to the mall, but I was running late."

Do I Have to Pay My Loans Off Immediately?

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Many people turn to loans to help them cover the cost of pursuing an education online. But once they graduate, people aren’t really sure about how to pay that loan back. Should they strive to be debt free immediately, even if that would suggest living on Ramin noodles for the next 10 years? Or do they make only small monthly payments but have their debt shadow hang over them for a few decades? Well, this will heavily depend on what kind of loan you received. To get some insight on which repayment route you should take, continue reading.

So when should you strive to pay your loan back as quickly as possible? Well, if you were forced to take out private loans then you should try to pay back your loan as soon as you can. This is not only because interest rates are already higher than most Federal loans, but because interest rates are not fixed. This means they can increase throughout the years. And the longer you wait to pay it off, the more you will have to pay in the end. But of course if you do not have the means right away this could be difficult. This is why many college graduates choose to move back home with their parents for a while. If you do this, you should take advantage of using your steady checks to pay off student loans while you get to live rent free—don’t waste your money on shiny new toys like cell phones and expensive clothes. Do the responsible thing and work to get debt free. Another way that some students can pay back a huge chunk of their student loan is to use their federal income tax refund check. Some students receive as much as $2,000 and what better way to use that money than by putting it towards your debt?

You should also consider paying your loan debt off as soon as possible if for any reason it’s going to stand in the way of achieving your goals. For example, if you want to eventually start your own business or buy a new house, then paying back your loan right away might be a good idea. You don’t want to bury yourself into an even more financial hole.

Other than that, do not try to make your loan priority if you have other outstanding debt, such as credit card bills. That kind of debt will ruin you first. Instead contact a loan officer and see if there is anyway you can make a deal. Federal loans are especially understanding. But you need to fill out the proper paperwork and tell them far in advance that you may have a hard time making your next payment.