I want to use this opening post to introduce myself to you and explain why I am writing this blog. Introductions first. I am a PhD candidate in Musicology at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, and am defending my dissertation in about a month!
You might be asking yourself “What the @#$% is musicology?"
A good friend of mine (who is also a musicologist) describes it as “the academic study of music.” I like to define musicology as music history. I compare it to the study of art history, but with a focus on music instead of visual arts. This discipline might seem obscure—and yes, I’ll admit, it is—but it shares similarities with the more familiar fields of history and cultural theory.
People in scholarly fields specialize in a narrow topic. I research and write about black musicians working in the 1920s and ‘30s. Through this topic I focus on exciting aspects of history such as early radio, the transition from acoustic recording to electric recording technology, touring conditions for musicians, Jim Crow segregation’s effect on musicians and the music business, the entertainment pages in black newspapers like the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier, and the reasons why listeners liked the music they did in the interwar years.
Why am I writing this blog?
Through my time in graduate school I have had wonderful opportunities to research these topics, share my research through scholarly writing, and to help other students best communicate their ideas. However, now that I am close to graduating from my PhD program, I also want to share the valuable research and writing skills I have learned along the way, from the initial formulation of an idea to the final copyediting stage.
As a writing coach, I am also starting this blog to give readers an idea of how I help my clients. Like anything else, writing is a skill that takes practice! I was able to successfully draft my dissertation within about one year, which is relatively quick for such a long and involved document. There are many reasons I was able to finish my dissertation so quickly, some of which were more a matter of luck than hard work. However, I employed many writing and time management techniques to remain productive throughout the dissertation process.
The best advice I can offer anyone trying to write a substantial essay for a course, a job letter, a grant or thesis proposal, or any other type of intimidating document is to make writing a daily habit and write 30 minutes a day. I will explore this topic more in future posts.
Tl;dr: I am a musicologist. Write 30 minutes a day to craft a successful document.