Guidelines for the Doctoral Piano Essay
- Step 1: Topic Proposal
- Step 2: Conduct research and prepare written component
- Step 3: Approval by research director
- Step 4: Submit copies for research committee approval
- Step 5: Submit final copies
- Style guidelines
Purpose, level and focus of the Piano Essay
The capstone for a doctoral degree is a substantial research project. For piano students, this is the Doctoral Piano Essay. There are different guidelines for the DM Final Project, Dissertation in Composition, and the PhD/DME Dissertation.
Piano students propose and write an essay of ca. 8,000–10,000 words (30–40 pages). The doctoral piano essay should be carried out at the highest level. It should build on the work you have done in the major field and be relevant to that field's repertory, pedagogy, history or practice.
Note: students must submit an application for graduation by the start of the semester in which they plan to graduate. Click here for dates and information. Piano students enroll in 1 credit of M621 Doctoral Piano Essay at some point before graduation.
Guidance of the Doctoral Piano Essay
The doctoral piano essay is guided and read by a three-person research committee. The research committee nomination is part of the topic proposal process. These committee members ensure that the essay is relevant to the field and that it speaks to its scholars and practitioners. One major-field member of the committee (typically your teacher) serves as chair and one as research director. Ordinarily, the same faculty member serves as both chair and research director, but this is not required.
Steps to Completing the Piano Essay
Propose a topic for your piano essay in which you outline your research for approval by a proposed research committee.
- Students are encouraged to begin this process before completing coursework.
- The topic must be approved before a date for the major field written qualifying exam can be scheduled.
- The approval time for the topic proposal is typically two weeks, not counting breaks.
Conduct research and prepare the essay. The essay should be a minimum of 8,000–10,000 words (roughly 30–40 pages). It must include a bibliography and should include a work list and discography as appropriate to the essay.
At the outset of your study, you should discuss the working relationship with your research director. This might involve regular meetings or phone calls, an agreement on how often you will send updates, and so on. Ordinarily, only the research director is closely involved during the writing stage. Other committee members typically wait until the research director has approved the essay for distribution before reading it, but you should ask them how they would like to be involved in the writing stage of the final project.
- You are encouraged to set up your document according to these style guidelines for doctoral documents from the start.
- You should ensure that the prose is edited for correct grammar, usage, and style before submitting drafts to your research director. While research directors can be expected to make editorial suggestions, correct occasional typographical errors, and so on, they should not be expected to work with poorly written or non-idiomatic English. Documents with extensive problems may be returned by the research director at step 3, or by the committee at step 6. This will delay completion of the degree.
- Some students begin the writing process while still completing coursework. Many get a lot done in parallel with preparing for qualifying exams. Most students do the bulk of the work after passing the oral qualifying exam.
When the research director is satisfied with your completed draft of the essay, ask your research director to send an e-mail message to the doctoral clerk in the music graduate office at musdoc [at] indiana [dot] edu indicating their approval to distribute the document to the research committee. Depending on how closely you have been working with the research director during the writing process, the time the research director needs to review the document and approve it for distribution to the research committee may range from a couple weeks to a few months.
Using the link below, submit your piano essay to the music graduate office for distribution to the research committee. You must ask each committee member whether they prefer a printed or electronic copy and submit a printed copy for each faculty member who prefers it in that form. The essay will not be distributed for committee review until all necessary copies have been submitted to the music graduate office.
The document must be submitted electronically using this submission form:
On the submission form, you will be asked to submit the names of research committee members who have asked to receive the document electronically and the names of committee members for whom you are submitting printed copies.
Printed copies may be submitted in person or by mail (including UPS, FedEx, etc.) to the following address:
Music Graduate Office
Merrill Hall 011
1201 E. 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
You are encouraged to submit printed copies double-sided.
By Jacobs School of Music policy, members of the research committee may take up to six weeks (excluding breaks) to review the document and decide whether to approve it. The music graduate office will inform you by e-mail when your project has been approved by all committee members. You should not ask committee members for updates or ask them to review more quickly than policy dictates. The graduate office will follow up with faculty who do not respond by the requested response date.
Even if the essay is approved, the committee may yet ask you to make revisions. Sometimes these are minor, but may be more substantive. The committee will specify which (if any) committee members must approve final revisions.
If the research committee does not approve the essay, you will be required to make revisions as directed by the committee and to resubmit the document for another full review.
After the research committee approves the essay and you have completed any required revisions and had them approved as directed by the research committee, prepare the final copy and submit it as outlined below:
This must be done by the last day of classes for the semester (or of the summer term) in order to graduate that semester.