Course Description for History of Music, (Music 2410)
"D" Period

Mr. Robert L. Johnston, Instructor
M.A.T., Lehman College
M.M., B.M., Manhattan School of Music

2020-2021 Academic Year

History of Music is a full-year, full-credit, Regents and College Credit course designed to give students a comprehensive survey of the history of Western music from antiquity (pre-Christian) through the present. The course will include a healthy mix of lecture, listening, and visual presentations.

Time Requirements:
To foster the best possible opportunities to consistently succeed, exemplary attendance and punctuality are critical for each and every class. If a student is absent, they are required to make up the day’s work by either referencing the class web page or consulting a classmate.

Basic Environment:
All members of the class community must be student-musicians and historians of integrity.  We must consistently practice respect of the following:

The artistic and historical figures we study. This select group of people is immensely talented and has profoundly impacted the development of our vocation, and in many cases, our Catholic and Franciscan identity.

The instructor and guest lecturers. We have worked very hard to attain an academic and artistic standard to instruct this class in a learned and thorough manner.

Each other.  Be sure to treat the rest of the class community just as you yourself would wish to be treated.

Yourselves.  Respect the fact that each of us will grow as musicians and human beings this year.  As Boethius describes, each of you are working towards becoming a musicus, or someone who strives to understand music by study and contemplation.

We are a Franciscan Community.  Music presents students with broad aspects of the Golden Links of Franciscan education; Spiritual, in the performance, appreciation and enjoyment of the aesthetic that is Music; Intellectual in the contemplation and discovery of what we study; Social in the community approach we take in learning and discovering together.

Again, be on time.  We have an extraordinary amount of material to explore.  If we start late, we accomplish less and usually end in a harried manner for that particular day.

Do not speak out of turn. If you have a question, ask respectfully or raise your hand.

Listen to:

Your instructor or guest lecturer.

The music being presented.  For many of you, this is the first time hearing many of the works we will explore together.  Be active listeners.

Each other, both in your questions and comments. We all contribute to the learning process.

Yourself. Be sensitive to how your questions and comments contribute to the class, as well as sensitive to how the music speaks to you.

Students will be expected to adhere to all rules and regulations of the school as outlined in the school calendar.

That said, here are the Covid requirements for this class:

  1. We will practice social distancing.
  2. We will always wear masks.
  3. We will wash our hands before and after rehearsal.
  4. We will sneeze and cough into our elbows.
  5. We will not use or touch anything we do not need to, such as computers.
  6. We will NOT share:
    1. Music or books
    2. Pens/Pencils
    3. iPads

Materials Needed:
A notebook with a separate section to list the works and performers we listen to in class, and pens, and/or your iPad.

If you wear eyeglasses, be sure to have them each class as we will be using a smart board each class. 

Students will be required to buy two (2) texts.  Given current circumstances, please purchase these on your own.
  • History of Music, Hugh M. Miller, Harper Collins, New York. 1991.
  • Bach, Beethoven and the Boys, David W. Barber, Sound and Vision, Toronto. 1996.
Students should have readily available access to the Internet.

Your ears, eyes, brains, enthusiasm and maturity each and every class.

To further develop a strong work ethic, rooted in intellectual pursuits and respect.

To heighten your knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our aesthetic.

To ultimately develop an intellectual connection between what we study in class and your approach in your performing ensembles.

To thoroughly enjoy exploring the history of music with each other.

Grading Policy:
Major exams (50% of each quarter):

There will be two major exams each quarter, including the Midterm and Final (Regents) exams.

Each exam will be preceded by at least one review period.

If papers are assigned, they will be weighted as a major exam.

Quizzes (25% of each quarter):

There will be a number of announced quizzes each quarter, administered at the conclusion of different units of material.

If group projects are assigned, they will be weighted as quizzes.

Homework (10% of each quarter):

Homework will be assigned on a regular basis and will be due for the next class, unless otherwise indicated.

Unreasonably late or poorly prepared homework will result in a lower grade.

Missing homework will result in a "0."

Participation (15% of each quarter) will be based on the following:


Please refer to page 12 of the school calendar for school policy on attendance.

Each absence after the first two (2) of each quarter will result in two (2) points being deducted from the participation portion of your grade, barring college visits, retreats and extreme or unique circumstances.

Students are IN NO WAY permitted to miss class to make up work for other classes, or attend reviews. Your responsibility during our class time is our class.


Students must present a late pass or acceptable teacher note when late to class.

Each unexcused lateness after the first one of each quarter will result in two (2) points being deducted from the participation portion of your grade.


Automatic twenty (20) points off the quarterly grade for cutting.

Please note that one (1) cut will profoundly jeopardize a student’s chance of passing the quarter.

The final grade will be an average of each quarterly grade and the Final (Regents) exam grade (20% each).


Students will initially be advised verbally of any concerns. If there is no improvement, or there is a danger of failing, academic deficiency reports will be sent to the parent(s)/guardian(s).


Students are strongly encouraged to see Mr. Johnston if they feel they are having any difficulty in regard to any aspect of the class. Time will always be made to give extra help or speak with a student at mutually agreeable times. If students are in jeopardy of failing, they will be notified by Mr. Johnston as well as having an academic deficiency report sent to their parents/guardians.

Parent(s)/Guardian(s) who are concerned about their child’s performance are encouraged to speak to Mr. Johnston at Parent/Teacher interviews, by phone at (718) 423-8810 x255, or by e-mail at [email protected]