Capstone Experience

Knowledge of what you're getting into and preparation for what you're about to accomplish are two very different issues.

I've known since August that I'd have to work hard to get out of my eighth semester with a degree. I've gotten ideas and put them to paper with some speed, but it apparently isn't enough to satisfy the information-hoarding performance nazis who reside over the performance spaces and those who are allowed to play in them.

I'd been enrolled in SRRE 4023 for three weeks before I heard anything from the purported "professor" of the course. Mainly, it's Dr. Shepard who's guiding me through this experience, but Rath is the one who lords over all the undergrads when it comes time to escape his clutches.

To disclaim, it's not Rath so much that I'm raging against right now, just the system he's head of. An email comes from him this afternoon stating a few of the more general requirements of students giving recitals, and indicates that complete information is available from the School of Music Student Handbook.

It was here that it was revealed to me that, even as a Composition major, I would have to submit a 4-5 page paper, single-spaced giving historical information on the basis of each piece's composition and pointing out things to listen for targeted toward the people who attend my recital before I give the recital preview.

Now, forming a sketchy calendar with this information, and including two possible recital dress rehearsals and allowing for spring break, I basically have five weeks to generate an entire program of music, program notes, and intelligent thought on the material I have presented.

Granted, the handbook does mention that the Composition Department has slight alterations (which have never been documented in any form) from the standard format, but even then, the workload is enormous.

And this is after I've been expecting an enormous workload for the past five months.

Before April rolls around, they'll be telling me I need to invent my own tuning system and an orchestra's worth of the instruments they are to be played on.

Higher Education, I shake my fist at thee.

The next day...

Come to find out, no one in the composition department has any idea what these aforementioned "slight alterations" are. In a meeting with Dr. Shepard earlier today, he didn't know, so he made a few phone calls around the school to find someone who did know.

The search came up empty.

As luck would have it, though, Dr. Shepard is at a convention this weekend with the former chair of the composition department. (Two chairs ago, dating back to the fall of 1999.)

If she can't come up with an answer, no one can.

It just scares me that in the past three years, it's likely that this process has been forgotten, or even worse, that since she is no longer on the OU payroll, she won't divulge the information needed to satisfy the constraints she created and left as her legacy to students seeking degrees in composition at the University of Oklahoma.

Higher Education, I continue to shake my fist vigorously at thee.

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