Cross-listed Section Group 802 

Tarleton State University

Instructor:  Dr. Vicky Johnson  

E-mail:  vjohnson@tarleton.edu  

Office Phone:  254/968-9238 



Note:   This is an organic document!  It will change.  You are responsible for what is on this page, not a copy you made at the beginning of the semester.  Please help by notifying me if there are broken links - they may contain information that you will be tested on later!

You may not want to take this course if . . .


Week #

Week Dates

All are Mon.-Sun.

Topic for Study



@ midnight



@ midnight



Aug 27 - Sep 2

Intro to Popular Music

Tin Pan Alley

American Musical Theater


Introduce yourselves

Discussion 1


Post: Fri Aug 31

Resp.: Sun Sep 2

Assignment 1

Music List


Sun. Sep 2

Exam Info


Sep 3 - 9

African-American Influences


Discussion 2

Discrimination and Jazz

Post: Fri Sep 7

Resp: Sun Sep 9

Assignment 2

Blues Song

Sun. Sep 9



Sep 10 - 16

Early Jazz

Big Bands and Swing

Jazz after World War II






Unit 1 Exam

Sunday Sep 16

(between 8 - 10pm)


Sep 17 - 23

Country Roots

Country Western


Discussion 3

Country Culture

Post: Fri Sep 21

Resp: Sun Sep 23

Assignment 3

ARM Quiz

Sun. Sep 23



Sep 24 - 30

Ladies of Country Music

Nashville and Beyond


Assignment 4

Country Music Song-kit

Sun. Sep 30

Unit 2 Exam

Sunday Sep 30

(between 8 - 10pm)


Oct 1 - 7

Rock 'n' Roll Roots

The Golden Age of Rock

The British Invasion

Discussion 4

The First Rock 'n' Roll Song

Post: Fri Oct 5

Resp: Sun Oct 7

Assignment 5

Assessment Questions

Sun. Oct 7



Oct 8 - 14

Gospel, Soul, and Motown

Rock in the 70's

80's and 90's Rock


Assignment 6

PowerPoint Title

Sun. Oct 14

Unit 3 Exam

Sunday Oct 14

(between 8 - 10pm)


Oct 15 - Oct 21

Work on final project


Final Project


Sun. Oct 21

Optional Final Exam

Sunday Oct 21

(between 8 - 10pm)







Before we get started, here's a "word to the wise":

Have you ever seen a sign (usually behind a secretary's desk) that looks something like this:







The same applies to your grade.  Be aware that I use standard 'rounding' procedures.  An 89.4 is a B and an 89.5 is an A.  If you don't want your grade to depend upon 1/10 of a point, plan ahead,







do not beg me at the end.



Week 1


Introduction to Popular Music

Tin Pan Alley

American Musical Theater



Greetings online students!  

Welcome to Popular Music in America. On this Course Outline page, you will find links to the lectures for each week, as well as any general information for the class.  The animated bullets to the right will designate "action" items, so be sure you accomplish these each week.  There is an overview calendar at the top of the page for quick reference.


Please review this Pre-course Information.


Take a look at the  Popular Music Syllabus

This contains grading and policy information.  Let me know if you have any questions. 


Please read these instructions about the Discussions even before you give your introduction this week.

Note:  Please use the Ask Dr. J discussion forum for all questions unless they are only specific to you. 

For example, if you are having trouble zipping a file, clarification on an assignment, problems with accessing digital formats, etc., Ask Dr. J.  Otherwise, I end up answering the same questions over and over if individual emails are sent.  Feel free to use email for personal issues.  When I log in, I check the Ask Dr. J first anyway!


"Working Ahead"


Students will sometimes energetically tackle the assignments for the course and turn in several ahead of time, or answer discussion questions in advance.  While there is no rule against this, be aware that the assumption is that learning is continually taking place and that a synthesis of information and understanding should be evident as the course progresses.  In other words, you will be smarter in Week 2 than you are in Week 1, etc., so if you complete your work too far in advance, you won't have the benefit of the things you learn along the way, particularly from your fellow students.  There is also the possibility that questions will be answered that will benefit you during the week of the discussion or the assignment.  That having been said . . . . .





The Final Project for this class is a PowerPoint presentation on a popular music topic of your choice.  The technology involved in attaching audio files (which are required) and zipping the project for submission causes significant anxiety for some students.  I am therefore giving you fair warning that tech savvy is necessary for that project.  Do not wait until the last week to address this issue.  (See the PowerPoint link on Week 8 for more information.)


Even if you think you are familiar with PowerPoint,


Have you ever used mp3 files linked to the slides? 

Have you ever made audio clips of mp3 files? 

Have you ever zipped a folder?


If any of those answers are "No," then allow extra time.


Otherwise . . .

Now, click in to the first lecture, and let's get started!


Lecture:  Introduction to Popular Music and Tin Pan Alley


Lecture:  Musical Theater


Note that at the bottom of each of these Lecture pages (linked throughout) there is a link back to this page.  Be sure to choose "Course Outline 8 wks" and not "Course Outline Summer" or you'll do the wrong assignments!!



Blackboard /Computer configuration


Follow this link  and make sure your computer is set to the specifications listed.  Testing and assignment submission will not work otherwise.


Follow this link to set Blackboard e-mail to forward to the one you check most often.  Otherwise, you will have to be logged into Blackboard to receive any e-mail from me and you may miss important information.  This is VERY important.


Also, please go through the Blackboard Orientation.  The icon is to the right of the Course Outline icon.


Finally, check the table above and note the test dates and assignment and discussion deadlines.  You might want to transfer this information to your calendar.  "I forgot" can easily be prevented.  You need to log in to your course every day to ensure success in an online environment.


Week 1 Reading:  Chapters 1 and 2


Note:  We cover the entire book in the class.  Please note that the lectures do not include all questions found on the exams, so skip the reading at your own risk!



Click here for a bit of info on me.  This is an intro Prezi.

In the discussion forum, please introduce yourself to your online classmates.  Include any personal information that would help us to get to know you; for example, your major, future career plans, home town, family info, etc.  For my own information, I would also like to know where you are living while taking this course and whether you are pursuing a degree at another school.  Also, tell us what your favorite popular music is and what influences have caused that to be so.  Did you grow up with that kind of music, were you more influenced by your friends, or do you just march to a different drummer?  Last of all, please give an overview of your experiences as a musician.  Did you take piano lessons, play in the band, join a church choir, sing in the shower?  Don't be modest.  I promise I won't ask you to perform!

Be sure to answer everything in blue above. After writing your answer in the discussion forum, feel free to respond to your classmates' posts in order to get to know them a little better.  This discussion question will not be graded, but try to post your introduction by Friday so others can respond if they wish.


The peer review function (rate your peers) is not available on this discussion.  It will be available on next week's discussion.

One more thing:  Before writing your introduction, please review the Discussion info and use this opportunity to practice correct discussion protocol, such as using correct punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, etc.  Then, if you refer to yourself as "i" instead of "I" we will all know who read the instructions and who didn't!


Assignment 1:  Music List


Your textbook discusses over 65 types (or styles) of popular music in America.  After completing the lectures to your left, look through your textbook (all of it, not just the first reading assignment) and see how many you can find.  Hint:  the bold headings and chapter summaries of your book are very helpful, but not all of them fit the criteria.


List them in the submission window in the Assignments tab.  Be sure to number them.  If they are not numbered, I will return them to you.


You will receive 2 points for every style of popular music that you list (up to the 100 possible points for the assignment).  It's always wise to throw in a few more than 50, to ensure that you get full credit for the assignment.  Type this information in the submission window in the Assignments tab.  Do not send as an attachment.


Make sure you list styles (Swing), and not times (Swing Era), not people (Big Bands), not forms (strophic).  Ask yourself on each one:  Is this a popular American style?  Does it (or did it) make money in America?


Discussion 1:  Musical Theater


After reading about musicals in your textbook, answer the following questions for the first discussion:  What musicals have you seen?  What was your opinion of them?  Is this still a viable form of entertainment in our current popular culture or will it go the way of the dinosaur (and vaudeville)?  Why or why not? 


Remember to support your answers with what you have learned, not just your opinion.  Check out this link and hover your cursor over the dates on the timeline.  Answer the questions by Friday (midnight) and post responses to your peers by Sunday (midnight). Use the peer review function and rate all of the original posts that you read; in other words, your classmates' answers to the question, but not the responses that are due on Sunday.  For instructions on how this works, see the Discussion Info


Memory failing you?  Here is a link to a list of musicals.

Reminder:  Be sure to answer all of the questions above in your discussion post.

Week 2 

African-American Influences


Lecture:  Jazz Part I


When you are working on your assignment for this week, below is a direct link to the lecture page with examples, so that you can check for proper form. 


Note: LOTS of students make the mistake of writing some verses on a "woe is me" topic, thinking that constitutes the blues.  They have to be in a very specific form and rhyme scheme to be counted as correct.  Please follow the instructions on the Blues page linked below.


The Blues


Week 2 Reading:  Chapters 3 - 5


Assignment 2:  Write your own blues song


Compose your own blues song.  See your text (pp.57-58) and the lecture notes for more info.  You do not have to write the music, but the words only.  Your song should have at least 3 different verses (each verse would be 3 lines long as in the example on the bottom of p. 58). See more examples on the Blues page.  Choose your own topic - perhaps too much rain, or your part-time job, or online college classes can give you inspiration!  


Type your blues song into the submission window in the Assignments tab.  Do not send as an attachment.  These will be published for your classmates to see after the deadline (which is again Sunday midnight).


Discussion 2:  Discrimination and jazz


Before you begin this assignment, please review the Discussion Info.


Based upon what you have learned through your reading and other valid sources (and NOT your assumptions or pre-conceived notions), how did race discrimination affect the development of jazz?  How might jazz be different today if there had been no discrimination against black composers and performers?  Be specific in your conjecture (not just "better" or "worse").  Do not limit your answer to slavery issues, (but follow the path of discrimination forward as well, even to present day. 

Here is a helpful timeline www.jazzistry.org/timeline.html  Be sure to use quotation marks if a phrase or passage is not your own.  DO NOT just paraphrase your textbook.  Use information - do not regurgitate it. 


Answer the questions by Friday (midnight) and post responses to peers by Sunday (midnight). 



Week 3 


Don't forget to check out your classmates' blues songs from last week.

Click on the "Published" tab in the Assignments section.

Early Jazz
Big Bands and Swing

Jazz after World War II


Lecture:  Jazz Part II


 Lecture:  Jazz Part III


No assignment this week to submit.




Unit 1 Exam - Sunday


Please notice that I have posted a study guide (below) to help you prepare for the Unit 1 test.


Unit 1 Practice

Here is a fun way to review the material


Unit 1 Study Guide


Exam Info


Week 3 Reading:  Chapters 6 - 9


Practice Test 


This is posted in the Assessment section and consists of only 6 questions.  You may take this at any time.  It will give you an idea of the types of questions that will be on the exam and will ensure that all of your technology is working properly.  There will not be a Practice Test prior to the other 2 exams.  If you have problems with this practice test, you WILL have problems with the exam on Sunday.  Call the Blackboard help desk (254/968-1960) immediately so they can help you address the problem.


In order to see the "play" button and the volume slider on the audio questions on the exam, you must have Adobe Flash player installed on your computer.  Go here to get it:  http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/


Unit 1 Exam


Sunday:  You may begin any time between 8:00pm and 10:00pm.  You will have 1 hour to complete the exam after you begin.  You may begin anytime within this window of time. 


Before you begin, be sure to print out the Listening ListThe answers to the listening questions will be the numbers assigned to the songs on that page.  Do not use a period after the number.


If you answer with the names of the songs instead of the numbers, all of your answers will be counted wrong!


Also remember to install Adobe Flash player (link above) or you won't be able to play the audio clips.


Note that there is a large question set for each exam and the questions are randomly selected for each student and each test.  Therefore, the test may not seem to be comprehensive because of this random selection of questions.  However, don't be fooled into studying selectively for the next exam based upon the chance selections you got on this one!


Please review the Exam Info before taking the exam - even if you have already read it!


Week 4 


Country Roots
Country Western





Lecture:  Country Roots


Lecture:  Country AND Western



Looking ahead:  Be thinking about a topic for your PowerPoint project that is due at the end of Week 8.  Look here for some possible titles

PowerPoint Topics


Warning:  Do not begin this project before getting your topic approved.  You may submit your idea at any time as Assignment 6 (See Week 7).  As soon as your topic is approved, you may begin working on your project.  Don't send your topic in an email, but you can go ahead and submit Assignment 6 at any time.

Week 4 Reading:  Chapters 10 -12


Assignment 3:  ARM Quiz


American Roots Music Episode 1

This video will give you an excellent background on the different types of music that form the basis (the beginnings) of all the popular music we have today.

  1. Watch the first episode (Parts 1 and 2) of American Roots Music.  You will see the link beside the Course Outline link. 

  2. Print out this page of questions and answer the questions while you watch the streaming video.  Just circle the correct answer as you watch the video.  The questions are in the order that you will see on the video. Remember that there can be more than one correct answer to a question, so you may have more than one answer circled on some questions.

  3. After you have answered the questions to your satisfaction, go to the "Assessment" tab and enter your answers into the ARM Episode 1 Quiz.  You can begin to enter the answers at any time until the Sunday night deadline.  Once you begin, you will have one hour to enter your answers.

Discussion 3:  Country Culture

Your textbook in Chapter 10 paints a picture of the culture of the rural south that was reflected in early country music.  How much of that culture do you think still remains in the rural south today? (I’m talking attitude, not occupation).  Is it still male-dominated with macho tendencies?  Is it still shaped by Fundamentalist Christianity?  Is it still “behind the times”?  Many of you live or have lived in rural areas.  Others have lived mostly in urban areas and have a very different perspective.  Feel free to give specific examples to illustrate your conclusions, but be sure to read the text first.  Note that "rural South" does not mean only "rural Texas."  You may need to do a bit of research related to "the South" in general.

Answer the questions by Friday (midnight) and post responses to peers by Sunday (midnight).


Week 5

Ladies of Country Music

Nashville and Beyond





Lecture: The Ladies of Country Music


Lecture:  Bluegrass

Lecture:  Nashville and Beyond




Unit 2 Practice


Unit 2 Study Guide


Exam Info



Week 5 Reading:  Chapters 13 -14


Assignment 4:  Do-It-Yourself Country Western Songkit

This is just a fun exercise - a tongue-in-cheek version of country song-writing

Go to the link above and fill in one for yourself.  Use suggestions from the list, or make up your own words to fill in the blanks.  Don't change the other part, though, or it won't rhyme. 


Write your version out in verse form (as it is in the Songkit).  Submit this one by typing it in the submission blank (NOT in a Word doc).  I will check this off as completed, but it won't be graded.


If you'd like to see how your song would sound, here is a midi file to


Red River Valley


This tune will fit your newly created country hit!


Unit 2 Exam

Sunday:  You may begin any time between 8:00pm and 10:00pm.  You will have 1 hour to complete the exam after you begin.


You may begin anytime within this window of time.  Before you begin, be sure to print out the Listening List.  The answers to the listening questions will be the numbers assigned to the songs on that page.  Do not use a period after the number.

Week 6

Rock 'n' Roll Roots

The Golden Age of Rock

The British Invasion

Gospel, Soul, and Motown



Lecture:  Rock 'n' Roll Roots


Lecture:  60s Rock


Lecture:  Gospel, Soul, Motown


Looking ahead:  There is a LOT of reading next week and a unit exam.  It would be a great idea to read ahead this week since your assignment is not too tough!


Week 6 Reading:  Chapters 15 -19


Assignment 5

I am always trying to improve this course.  Please answer the following questions to help me do this.  Here is the link for the questions:  Assessment Questions.  Type your answers into this Word document.  Save it as Assignment 5_YourName.doc (or docx) This assignment will not be graded, but will be checked for completion.


Discussion 4:   The first Rock 'n' Roll song

On the lecture page (to your left), the question is posed, "What was the first rock song?"  Four possibilities are offered by your text, and audio links are provided on the lecture page.  There is also a link to a more extensive list. (Feel free to choose a song on that list as well.) Listen to the songs and draw your own conclusions.  Which song would you choose and why?  Be sure to justify your opinion.  Remember to avoid the "I agree" responses unless you offer some additional perspective. Answer the questions by Friday (midnight) and post responses to peers by Sunday (midnight).


Week 7


Rock in the '70s

80's and 90's Rock

Music in a New Millennium


Unit 3 Exam - Sunday


Lecture:  Rock in the 70's


There IS no lecture for 80's, 90's and beyond.   The material is covered in the last chapters of the textbook.


The reading assignment is particularly long this week, because you should be more familiar with this material for having lived through at least a good portion of it!


Unit 3 Practice


Unit 3 Study Guide


Exam Info



Week 7 Reading:  Chapters 20-24


Assignment 6

Submit the title of the PowerPoint that you have chosen for your final project.  Give a title and brief description of your content. 

Do not submit as a Word document.  Just type your info into the window in the assignment section.  This assignment will not be graded, but will be checked for completion.  DO NOT begin your project until your topic is approved.  I will write a reply to your assignment with any suggestions I may have and with final approval for your project.


Unit 3 Exam

Sunday:  You may begin any time between 8:00pm and 10:00pm.  You will have 1 hour to complete the exam after you begin

You may begin anytime within this window of time.  Before you begin, be sure to print out the Listening List.  The answers to the listening questions will be the numbers assigned to the songs on that page.



Week 8

Work on final project

 PowerPoint Project


Note:  Be aware that it can take quite a bit of time to upload a large file to Blackboard, so don't wait until just a few minutes before midnight!!

Final Project:  PowerPoint Presentation

Be sure and review the information on the PowerPoint Project link before submitting your file.  This project is due on Sunday at midnight.


Save your document as Powerpoint_YourName.zip and submit it by Sunday at midnight.


Final Exam:  Optional

There is no final exam for this class unless you choose to take it to replace a low exam grade :-)

Those who wish to take the final may take it on Sunday, Oct 21 between 8 and 10pm.

  • The Final Exam will have the same number of questions as the Unit Exams (50 questions) and you will have the same amount of time (one hour). 

  • The same question sets (one from each of the 3 units) are used for the Final Exam. 

  • There will be listening questions from each unit

  • The questions will be randomly selected from each question set, so no two students will get the exact same questions. 

  • Since the possible questions are exactly the same as the Unit Exams, there is no separate study guide for the Final Exam.




Important:  Even after you have finished your last exam and turned in your last assignment and discussion posts, continue to log into Blackboard.  Check your assignments to see if any have been returned to you and check the "My Grades" tab.  If there is not a grade on an assignment that you have done, then something has not been submitted or submitted properly.  Let's fix it or the grade book will show a zero when grades are averaged! Give me time to get the grading done before you ask about PowerPoints :-)




Unless you had trouble with your PowerPoint or still have assignments to redo, you are done!!!! 




Please complete the Student Evaluation of Instruction. 

This is the evaluation required by Tarleton.  I would appreciate it very much if you would complete this evaluation.  Your final grades will not be visible in DuckTrax until you complete the evaluation.

Click on the link below for the instructions:






YOU are an awesome class!!




Blackboard/Computer Configuration


Blackboard email setup


It is your responsibility to check into your course each day.  However, if you want to make sure you don't miss any e-mails from me or your fellow classmates, you can have e-mails inside Blackboard forwarded to the e-mail address you check most often.  The procedure is below.

  1. In Blackboard, click “My Settings” in the upper right portion of the screen.

  2. Select “My profile” tab and then "Edit Profile" - edit the profile to include the email address you actually check.

  3. Click Save.

  4. Now click on “My Tool Option” tab and scroll down to the Mail portion of the screen.

  5. Select the box “Forward all mail messages to the e-mail address in my profile.” 

  6. Click Save.

Configure your computer BEFORE you need to submit an assignment or take a test

Computer Settings Troubleshooting Guide

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of whatever music player (like Windows Media Player, etc.) you will be using

  2. Set your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or whatever) so that it does not block pop-ups from this site.  The music files are streamed that way.  Also set it to allow cookies from this site.

  3. If you are using a slow connection speed, your connection may time-out before downloading the streaming file.  You can adjust this setting if you need to.  Do not try to take exams using a dial-up connection!!  Students also sometimes have problems with wireless connections.  Hard-wired connections are the most reliable.

  4. Browsers do matter.  If something is not working for you, try another browser.  There are known problems with Google Chrome.  The Course Outline is optimized for Internet Explorer.  However, if you are having trouble with your computer, try Firefox.

Make sure the computer you will use has been tested for streaming audio files


Assignment Submission


Submit assignments according to the instructions in your Course Outline.  Some will be submitted in the submission blank, and some as  Word documents. Do not try to submit the document without saving it first.  Be sure and save it to a folder where you can retrieve it later.  Sometimes resubmissions are necessary.


Use a heading at the top of the page which includes your name and the assignment number. Use a heading on every assignment you submit.


Do NOT send an assignment to me via e-mail.  If you can't submit it, contact me and I will reset the submission.


Look in the Assignments tab for comments and feedback after the assignment has been graded.  Don't just look at the gradebook.


Occasionally your assignments may be returned to you for a redo.  I will do this if I feel that you did not understand the assignment, but not if you just did a bad job.  Make your corrections and resubmit through the Assignment section as before.  I will count off 10% of the point value if I send it back to you, but if I graded what you originally sent, that would most probably be a failing grade.  If your original submission is late, you will be penalized 10% of the point value.  Original submissions later than one week will not be accepted.


By submitting an assignment through the Blackboard system, the student is certifying that:

  • No part of this assignment has been copied from any other source except where due acknowledgment is made in the assignment and only where direct quotes are required
  • No part of this assignment has been written for me or dictated to me by any other person
  • No part of this assignment has been presented by me for assessment in any other course or subject at this or any other institution
  • I retain a copy of this assignment, which I can produce if requested by the course examiner

Remember that plagiarism in this course will result in an F for the course.




 It is very important that you name your file according to the instructions above.  Otherwise, I have to rename each file.  So please take a moment to rename the file before submission if you do not name it as above originally.





Syllabus    Links   


Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson