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MUS X57/250 Syllabus (EKU Guitar Ensembles)

School of Music

Syllabus for EKU Guitar Ensembles
Spring 2021
MUS X57 (TR: 3:30-5:30)
MUS 250 (MWF 2:30-3:15)
Campbell 327

Instructor: Dr. Dennis Davis 

Office: Foster 112 

Office telephone: (859) 622-5007 

 Office hours: By appointment

Academic Apparatus
Course Rationale * Prerequisites * Learning Objectives * Student Assessment * Required Materials * Grading Policy * Attendance Policy * Reserve Materials * University Policies

Course Specifics
Credo * Required Meeting Times * Rehearsal Preparation * Attire * Performance Requirements * Musicianship/Professionalism

Course Rationale:

  • National standards demand that aspiring professional guitarists develop guitar ensemble skills.



  • Audition required. The EKU guitar ensemble is open to all EKU students. Students interested in learning more about the EKU guitar ensemble, or becoming a guitar major or minor need to contact Dennis Davis.
  • Students must successfully complete four semesters of MUS 257 before they may enroll into MUS 457. It is also understood that MUS 457 students will be expected to perform advanced literature.


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn musicianship.
  • Students will learn proper guitar technique.
  • Students will learn how to present historically informed and creatively expressive performances of literature for guitar ensemble from every major style period..
  • Students will learn ensemble mechanics and rehearsal techniques.


Student Assessment:.

  • Students will present prepared literature in weekly rehearsals.
  • Students will perform as required during the semester and those performances will be assessed by both the student and the instructor.
  • Students will participate in several recital performances each semester. Students are required to perform in convocation each semester. Other performances will also be required. A recording session will occur the week before or after each EKU Guitar Ensemble Concert.
  • Video and Audio recordings will assist the assessment process. Weekly Dropbox recordings constitute 50% of your ensemble grade and ensemble recordings are by Sunday at 11 a.m.


Required Materials:

  • Instruments: All students should own a quality classical guitar (eventually spending $3,000 or more as opposed to $200 or less) and a versatile electric suited for jazz (humbucking pickups in neck and bridge position- preferably splitable).
  • Accessories: footstool, small music stand, concert attire, metronome, music dictionary, nail care kit (diamond file, buffing board, 600 grit or equivalent sand paper, replacement nails, silk mesh, and superglue), cables, recording device (mp3 perferred for Dropbox), volume pedal, amplifier, and picks.


Reserve Materials Include:

  • Articles, journals, and books explaining various aspects of guitar technique, performance, history, and pedagogy.
  • Recordings and scores.
  • Various items from my personal collection as necessary.


Attendance Policy:

  • Alternate ensemble times will be arranged when the professor has a scheduling conflict. An unexcused student absence lowers the semester grade by one letter. Only verifiable university or medical absences will be accepted. Three tardy arrivals equal one absence. Missing a concert, dress rehearsal, or other required performance results in a failing grade for the semester. Note: rehearsals must begin on time - meaning all preparatory issues: tuning, music wrangling, and so forth are completed before rehearsal time.


Grading Policy:

  • Rehearsals will be graded weekly, averaged, and combined with concert performance grades to produce a semester score. The first rehearsal of each semester is used to define objectives, discuss priorities, test reading skills, and set goals. Grades are based on degree of improvement, quality of preparation, amount of material covered, attendance, and, how effectively the semester goals are realized. The grade 'B' indicates progress; 'A' indicates exceptional work. Any student receiving less than a B needs to reassess his or her goals and career choice.
  • It is assumed that ensemble parts will be practiced and carefully considered. I am fairly adept at knowing whether or not parts have been practiced. I can also tell the difference between a nervous student struggling to play something they have practiced and a student that is really unprepared. If a student comes to ensemble unprepared they will be sent to the practice room to work on the assignment. Three or more unprepared rehearsals lowers your semester grade by one letter.
  • Audio (or video) recordings form the primary measurement of your outside preparation. Weekly Dropbox recordings constitute 50% of your weekly ensemble grade and those recordings are due each Sunday by 11 a.m. I fully expect your recordings to reflect your struggles, abilities, and level of familiarity with the literature. If you have not had the literautre for very long, your recordings will reflect that. If you are not an experienced player, your recordings will reflect that. Your recordings may sound very rough when you first receive your assignments, and that is perfectly fine. They allow us to target your difficulties and work to resolve them. If you fail to submit your recordings, I must assume that you failed to practice your literature. And much worse, it impedes my ability to quickly diagnois your problem areas and help you overcome them.
  • The semester grade will be lowered by one letter for each unexcused absence or three tardies. Missing a required concert results in a failing grade. Demerits lower the final grade by 1%. Please refer to the EKU Guitar Handbook for more information and clarification.



  • The study of music demands, as do all the arts, not only natural ability and talents, but also more importantly dedication, sacrifice, self-discipline, inquisitiveness, and the unrelenting desire to achieve excellence. Success requires all of these attributes. Natural ability is not a substitute for any other component. In fact, natural ability often unfairly enjoys the credit earned by hard work and dedication. It is assumed that music students are here to get the most from the Department of Music, its faculty, and resources, and, that music students will work consistently towards advancement in all areas, including those required outside the field of music. Music is a highly competitive art form and success is not guaranteed by tuition and attendance; success requires a self-sacrificing dedication to the field that includes a refusal to quit. The study of music is never finished and never takes extended holidays. Music requires regular practice and consistent effort to simply maintain prior accomplishments and future progress only happens after extended periods of regular practice. Since music is never “finished,” musicians, like athletes, must continue to progress without any extended breaks, especially if they hope to graduate with the skills and abilities to be “drafted” by a professional organization or excellent graduate school. Consider these words by Jascha Heifetz: If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it. (Heifetz). Every successful musician lives by this quote and students who ignore it are ignored by the profession. To prevent this devastating “learning outcome,” guitar students are required to submit recordings regularly and make regular progress during every academic break. It is fine to rest for one day or occasionally two, but more than that thwarts progress, memorization, interpretation, the ability to sight-read, and ultimately, confidence. If a unique event forces a break that is longer than three days, then balance that loss by either submitting extra recordings before, or immediately after, the academic break; but, never think that an academic break exempts any student from progressing and evidencing regular progress via weekly recordings. Some students may wonder about the recourse that follows the failure to make recordings and progress during breaks, and several have learned by having their recitals cancelled, literature changed, and most frequently, one or more extra semesters added to the end of their studies. But, the worse recourse is the self-inflected loss of progress, confidence, and growth that results from taking the break “off.” Everyone is free to make choices, but not from the consequences of their choices. Music is highly competitive and unfortunately, your competition will be thrilled by your mistakes and poor choices. Consider how unique music really is: 
  • Go on; don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets. Art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine…I will take fate by the throat; it will never bend me completely to its will. (Beethoven)
  • If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. (Einstein). 
  • Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.  (Plato)


Required Meeting Times:

  • Applied lessons are arranged each semester at a mutually convenient time.
  • MUS X32F Masterclass meets every MWF at 1:25 pm., unless there is a Friday Convocation (attend the Friday convocation). Friday meetings give students the opportunity to rehearse together at a mutually required time (when there is not a student convocation). 
  • MUS 250 (Electric Guitar Ensemble) meets every MWF at 2:30 pm. Friday meetings are required and they typically serve as self-directed rehearsals that give students the opportunity to rehearse together at a mutually required time. Outside rehearsal times are necessary for growth and development. 
  • Classical Guitar Ensemble/Performance class meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 - 5:30 pm.
  • Directed and Undirected Ensembles meet weekly as assigned. An unexcused absence from any group rehearsal/masterclass the semester grade by one letter. Three unexcused tardies equal one absence.

Performance Requirements and Important Dates:

  • Performance Requirements:
    Guitar majors will present an ensemble and studio concert on the EKU campus every semester. Other performances will be required on a periodic basis and include concerts at other universities, recording sessions, Friday Student Recitals, and local and regional K-12 institutions. Some concert times are subject to change and more concerts may be added when dates are finalized. Please flexible and willing to accommodate serendipitous performance opportunities. It is critical to your professional development.
  • A recording session will occur each semester.
  • All EKU guitar department recordings are the sole property of the EKU department of

Dress Rehearsals and Concerts:


  • EKU Guitar Ensemble Concert: October 28, 2021, 7:30PM, Gifford Theater.
  • EKU Guitar Studio Concert: November 23, 2021, 7:30PM, Gifford Theater.


  • EKU Guitar Ensemble Concert: March 29, 2022, 7:30PM, Gifford Theater.
  • EKU Guitar Studio Concert: May 3, 2022, 7:30PM, Gifford Theater.
  • All dress rehearsals are at 3:30 PM the day of the concert in the assigned venue, unless otherwise announced. A recording session will occur each semester. All EKU guitar department recordings are the sole property of the EKU department of music.

Midterm Exams:


  • MUSX32F: Performance (during Midterm Lesson). Written September 30, 2021 (3:30-5:30).
  • MUSX57: Performance and written September 30, 2021 (3:30-5:30).


  • MUSX32F: Performance (during Midterm Lesson). Written March 4, 2021 (3:30-5:30).
  • MUSX57: Performance and written March, 2021 (3:30-5:30).

Final Exams:


  • MUSX32F: Written: Monday, 11/29/21, 1:00-3:00 pm. (Campbell 327).
  • MUSX57: Written 12/2/21, 1:00-3:00 pm, Campbell 327.
  • MUSX32F: Performance: Wednesday (Juries), 12/1/21, 1:00-5:00 pm. (assigned time slots in Campbell 327)


  • MUSX32F: Written: Tuesday, 5/5/2022, 1:00-3:00 pm. (Campbell 327).
  • MUSX57: Tuesday 5/4/2022, 1:00-3:00 pm. (Campbell 327).
  • MUSX32F: Performance: Wednesday (Juries), 5/5/2022, 1:00-5:00 pm. (see assigned time slots; held in Campbell 327)
  • Juries: Students are required to perform a midterm and final jury examination each semester. 


Rehearsal Preparation:

  • It is assumed that ensemble parts will be practiced and carefully considered. I am fairly adept at knowing whether or not parts have been practiced. I can also tell the difference between a nervous student struggling to play something that they have practiced and a student that is really unprepared. If a student comes to ensemble unprepared they will be sent to the practice room to work on the assignment. Three or more unprepared rehearsals lowers your semester grade by one letter.


Convocation, Jury, and Solo Concert Attire:

  • Degree Recitals: Tuxedo or Coat and tie with dress pants, shoes, and socks. Some events may permit concert black. All attire decisions are made by the instructor. A performing musician is expected to own a tuxedo. It is the "uniform" of the industry. Tuxedo rental shops frequently sell used tuxedos at reasonable prices.
  • Guitar ensemble: Concert black, tuxedo, or similar approved apparel depending on the situation.
  • Jury (regular and Sophomore comprehensives): Dress shirt and tie with dress pants, shoes, and socks.
  • Convocation: Same as jury.


Musicianship and Lesson Professionalism* (see Blackboard: Guitar Department Handbook)


The EKU Syllabus Disability Accommodation Statement, Academic Integrity Statement, & Discrimination and Harassment, Title IX, and Prevention Statement.

University Writing Requirement:
Baccalaureate degree students must take the exam in the first semester of enrollment after completing the 60th credit hour. Transfer students who transfer 60 credit hours or more must take the exam in the first semester of enrollment.   Students failing to register for, take and pass the UWR in the semester after they complete 60 credit hours will be subject to the enrollment limitation described in the undergraduate catalog.

Email Correspondence:
According to the EKU registrar: "Students who have not yet activated their EKU email account should do so ASAP andmonitor that account regularly as it is an official means of communication between students and the university." Therefore, I have, and will continue to assume that every email that I send to students has been read, since students are required by the registrar to "monitor that account regularly as it is an official means of communication between students and the university." Unless otherwise advised, I will interpret “regularly” as within three hours of sending it, if received during business hours, and within twelve hours, if sent outside of business hours. If a student fails to complete an emailed assignment, whether it is by honest forgetfulness, purposeful forgetfulness, or plausible deniability, the result will be the same: zero points. It is appalling to think that any student would use not checking their email as an excuse in this era of smart device technology, Internet transparency, and rampant social media. It looks especially suspect if students claim to be unaware of an email while posting on social media.

Smart Devices, Recording Devices, & Computers in the Classroom:
You are required to power down these devices before class begins. Class disruptions will lower your final grade by one point for each occurrance. It is my legal right to prohibit any kind of recording of my class, and I am exercising that right. Therefore, recording devices of any kind, audio or video, are prohibited in this class. Violating this policy is illegal, and violators will be sanctioned. You may request to use a smart device for taking notes in this class, but that priviledge will be immediately revoked if you are caught doing anything else with that device.


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