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Writing an Extended Essay about Music A Practical Guide

January 2, 2016

Writing an Extended Essay about Music A Practical Guide by Barry Mitchell

This book is a practical guide to writing a dissertation or extended essay about music. It focuses on the points that will help you write a good essay. It is practical because the focus is on what you should do.  There are action points and checklists to help you make sure you are doing the right things in your essay.  You will learn about how to avoid common mistakes which, if you make them, will lower the mark you get for your essay.

This guide is about writing an essay about music. It is not a general guide to essay writing, though students writing about other subjects may find it of use. Quite a lot of this guide is devoted to how to design a good question. This is because a good question is absolutely essential if you are to score good marks for your essay.  The main cause of an essay losing marks is a badly-designed question.  If you get the question right you have a very good chance of writing a high-scoring extended essay.

This guide is aimed at pre-university level students. If you are a 16-18 year old writing an extended essay about music then this guide is suitable for you. I have assumed you are writing an essay of 3000-5000 words.

The main topics covered by this guide are

  1. How to design a question, including detailed discussion of sample questions.
  2. What should and should not be in your essay.
  3. The elements of an essay: what each part of your essay should do.
  4. How to present a music example, with references to links on the Theory of Music website that discuss in detail with how to write about music.
  5. How to construct and argument: a comparison of two different answers to the same question.
  6. A checklist for your essay plan.
  7. A final checklist for your essay.

There are sections called STOP AND THINK. Here you are asked to think about your own answers to important questions about your essay.

There are sections called CHECKPOINTS, which are there to remind you about the most important points. For example, CHECKPOINT 4 tells you about THE ONE BIG THING you can do to make sure your essay has the right structure.


The book is available for kindle on Amazon Writing an Extended Essay or Dissertation about Music A Practical Guide

Writing an Extended Essay about Music A Practical Guide cover

Writing an Extended Essay about Music A Practical Guide, cover

About the Author

Barry Mitchell studied music at Queen’s University Belfast where after completing a first degree in music he studied for an MA in composition. He is also a graduate of the Open University.  He has held several posts as a tutor and examiner with higher education institutions in the UK.  These include: visiting examiner for A level music with Edexcel Foundation, music and arts tutor for the Open University, tutor, course writer and dissertation supervisor for Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. He has also worked as a marker for the International Baccalaureate Organisation, marking the diploma level extended essay in music.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 3, 2017 7:56 pm

    Writing an essay about music may seem an easy task – after all everyone can express their thoughts on a certain piece of music. But that is just a surface. In order to write what you think about it – you need to know many things. Without knowing a thing or two about music as a concept you’ll soon find yourself in a situation where you can only stomp and listen to the echo.

    One of the most common problems in music writing is lack of theoretical knowledge. Music is not just a sound – it is a complex structure that combines various element and thus transcends upon itself. Understanding its compositional elements is crucial in writing an essay.

    Another popular problem is avoidance of historical and aesthetic context. There is nothing in this world that happened on an empty place. Every piece has its origin and point of inception. Knowing exactly in which environment and under which circumstances and influences piece of music was made is very critical in giving full picture of the subject to the reader.

    There’s also the third problem – misunderstanding of the purpose of the text. Sometimes writers tend to overshadow the subject with stylish writing – drowning it in excessive imagery and abundant metaphores. While flowery language may help in certain situations – it is better to be used minimally.

    If you want to know more – go at and read our essay about music.

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