Grades and Grading Standards

General Assessment

Applied music at Carleton is not an extra-curricular activity but a credit course. The credits earned should represent not only the weekly lessons (and, in some cases, weekly or occasional classes) but also the required hours of practice preparing for each lesson, as well as the progress which could be expected from the student's weekly time commitment. Mere attendance at the lessons and enthusiasm for music should not earn a student an A grade. It is a misconception that a high grade will always encourage students. An A grade should mean excellent progress, and both qual­itative and quantitative factors might enter into that judgment. Plusses and minuses (A-, B+, B, B-, C+, etc.) give further refinements to the grades and are factored into the student's grade point average accordingly. Note that A+ grades are not given at Carleton.

It is left to the individual instructor to assess the student's progress. Setting some requirement for "completion" by the end of each term is often appropriate. This might include any or all of the following: that some piece(s), sonata movement(s), etude(s), etc., is finished to the best of the student's ability, perhaps memorized; a performance opportunity in a class setting (or, if appropriate, on a student recital) or by way of students with adjacent lesson times playing for each other; some review of technique acquired during the term; the assignment of a short excerpt several weeks before the end of the term, similar in style to something the student has played before, to see how well the student can apply what has been learned to something new. Particular requirements might vary from one instrument to another and from beginning to advanced levels. A final grade would then reflect the level of work throughout the term as well as the achievements by the end of the term.

Juried Lessons ("J" Courses) and Non-Juried Lessons

There are two registration options each for half-hour Music lessons (the MUSC 1xx courses) or for hour Music lessons (the MUSC 2xx courses):

• First option:  a one-credit course (MUSC 1xx) or a two-credit course (MUSC 2xx) that is mandatory S/CR/NC and fulfills the Arts Practice Requirement (ARP). Students may continue with lessons even if they have satisfied the ARP requirement.   These courses must receive a S/CR/NC grade.

Juried Lessons (“J” courses) 
• Second option:  a one-credit course (MUSC 1xxJ) or a two-credit course (MUSC 2xxJ) that carry a “J” designation at the end of the course number (e.g. for piano, MUSC 150J or MUSC 250J).  The "J" Juried courses will receive a letter grade, and will fulfill the Arts Practice Requirement (ARP).  Students may continue with Juried lessons even if they have satisfied the ARP requirement.  As with any other class, students may elect to S/CR/NC these classes, in which case, these S/CR/NC credits count toward their 30-credit maximum allowed during a student's time at Carleton. These courses must receive a letter grade.

Students are encouraged to discuss which type of lesson (Juried or Non-Juried) with their instructors.  There is no special audition process for Juried lessons.

What is a Jury?  All "J" (Juried) courses will include a five to ten minute performance (jury) normally held after ninth week, including tenth week and exam days.  The choice of repertoire and learning goals for the jury will be decided by the primary applied music instructor in consultation with the student.  The jury will be assessed by the applied music instructor working in partnership with one other faculty member.  Together, they will provide each student with constructive feedback about their jury performance.  Of primary importance in assessing the jury performance will be the level of engagement with and quality of preparation of the music performed, rather than the difficulty of the repertoire.  Students should not be judged in comparison with other students.  The final course grade for juried lessons will continue to be the decision of the primary instructor. 

Why a Jury? Requiring a jury at the end of each term of study is broadly typical of how music is taught at other institutions of higher learning.  In addition, the College has moved to a more conscious assessment of learning outcomes as well as a revised set of distribution requirements for entry-level students matriculating Fall 2010 and beyond.  Accordingly, the Music Department decided that there should be a final evaluation (jury) every term which provides students with more constructive feedback as to their progress for the term.  In addition to the feedback, students taking the juried option will receive a letter grade.

Non-Juried Lessons:  The non-juried option may be especially attractive for students who wish to take private lessons without the required jury or letter grade. Non-juried lessons are mandatory S/CR/Nc courses and do NOT require a jury. The non-juried lessons will satisfy the Arts and Literature (AL) requirement and will retain the same requirements and current course numbers (e.g. for piano, MUSC 150 or MUSC 250).  

For entry-level students matriculating Fall 2010 and beyond, the non-juried courses will not satisfy the new Arts Practice Requirement (ARP).

D or F Grades

If a student is given a D or F grade, the instructor is asked to provide an explanation as to why the stu­dent received a low grade in the class. These students often end up before Carleton's Academic Standing Committee, who will want to know why students are having difficulty in their courses. Faculty giving a grade of D or F will complete a special form for the Registrar.

Incomplete or W Grades

Carleton does not allow its instructors to give "incomplete" as a grade. While students in music will often work on a piece or set of etudes over several terms, one cannot base a grade or make other allowances for work "to be completed the following term."