Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 8 September 2014

Starting a Music Degree? Here's How to Impress Your Lecturers!

If you're a performing artist, you'll probably be encouraged to keep a reflective diary, logging your progress as a musician or actor.  The Whittaker Library has books to help you develop your diary-keeping skills as a reflective practitioner.

However, there will be essays and topics to research, too.  So take a tip from a librarian: keep a record of everything you read, as well as everything you play.  And in your note-taking, never copy out a quote without noting the page where you found it. Make sure you put inverted commas at the start and end of the quote, then there's no risk of you accidentally using those words without citing who wrote them!  The form of referencing used at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is called the Harvard system.  (Don't worry if you forget the name - you'll be reminded soon enough!)

If you keep a bibliography (list of books read), note the author, title, publication place, publisher and date. Also the edition, if it's not the first.  It's a good idea to keep your list in alphabetical order by author, so you can find things later.  A Word document will do fine!  

If you enjoy downloading apps and freeware, you can even save your bibliography to the cloud so that you can access it from any computer you use.  

Take a look at Mendeley or Zotero - two useful free resources.  They help you control that growing list of references, and assist with formatting the bibliographic details so they're always consistent.  Come and see us if you need a bit of help getting started. Sometimes it's a good idea to annotate your bibliography with any earth-shattering discoveries you made whilst reading.  These apps will offer you a place for making such notes if you think they would help. ("Chapter 8: author describes harmonics in clarinet timbre.  Chapter 10: bagpipes as a martial instrument.")

Congratulations!  You're already well on the way to being one of the most organised freshers in town!  Your lecturers will be seriously impressed.

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