Online Master's Degree Course

Culminating Experience in IDMS 1


Authored by Sean Hagon


Course Code: OIDMS-693

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

The culminating experience course requires students to complete a significant culminating project based on the designated areas of concentration in the interdisciplinary music studies master’s degree and represents the highest expression of their learning at the graduate level. The project content and/or enactment must match the quality and scale of the demands of the current industry environment.

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Students will spend the first half of the course learning to foster their creativity through a number of lenses and then begin developing the culminating experience project proposal. The proposal is a written document that describes students' intentions regarding the culminating experience and also describes the contribution that students plan to make to the profession. The second half of the course, students will begin developing and creating their project.

Students will develop an aesthetic and critical vision of quality work in the designated areas of concentration, will be able to define quality using both general and musical criteria, and will be able to apply those criteria to their own work and to that of others and within the professional music industry.

Collaborative Interdisciplinary projects may include (but are not limited to):

  • Performances (recorded)
  • Studio/live recordings (a fully produced, mixed and mastered EP)
  • Recorded music with notated scores
  • Books (method, biographical, literary, etc.)
  • Composition/songwriting portfolios
  • Research/business/marketing plans or lessons plans
  • Musical transcriptions
  • Website for your company, product or service with e-commerce and company one-sheet
  • Artist website portfolio and artist one-sheet
  • Or something which is research/dissertation-based

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Synthesize and integrate knowledge in chosen area of concentration (e.g. songwriting, production, music business)
  • Lead a creative professional project from conception to execution
  • Apply entrepreneurial skills
  • Communicate effectively in business and/or performance environments
  • Synthesize secondary areas of knowledge as related to chosen elective courses (e.g. songwriting, production, music business)
  • Evaluate their creative output, assessing the contribution made to the profession
  • Analyze the trajectory of their own artistic, professional, and personal growth
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: The Intersection of Creativity, Art, and Purpose

  • Your Why, Passion and Purpose
  • Defining Your Success
  • Dispelling the Myths About Creativity
  • What is the Creative Entrepreneur Mindset?
  • Assignment 1.1: Inspirational Artist-Entrepreneur

Lesson 2: Habits of the Mind

  • Beyond 20/20: Your Vision, Your Creativity, Your Success
  • Daring Convention: Creativity and Autonomy
  • Creativity and Authenticity
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Assignment 2.1: Creative Vision

Lesson 3: Position Yourself From a Different Angle

  • Becoming A Problem Finder
  • Intuition: Your Gut Knows What Your Mind Doesn’t
  • Risk Taking
  • A Balancing Act: The Traditional and the Improvisational
  • Assignment 3.1: Creative Vision Mind Map

Lesson 4: Improvise, Embrace Failure, and the Big Picture

  • Embracing Failure: When Disappointment Breeds Innovation
  • Tools of the Trade
  • See the Big Picture
  • When Opposites Attract
  • Assignment 4.1: Business Model Canvas

Lesson 5: Cross Pollination and Connecting the Dots

  • Cross Pollination
  • Spark Your Creativity: Writing and Planning
  • Connect The Dots: Piecing the Puzzle Together
  • Pivot: The Only Constant Is Change
  • Inventing the Future: Keeping Two Steps Ahead
  • Assignment 5.1: Connecting the Dots to Foster Your Creativity

Lesson 6: The Culminating Project Proposal

  • The Project
  • Resource Management
  • Budget and Financial Management
  • Sources, Conclusion, Timeline and Journal
  • Assignment 6.1: Develop the Culminating Experience Project Proposal

Lesson 7: The Project Stage 1 and Setting Goals

  • Setting Goals and Clearing Obstacles
  • SWOT Analysis Overview
  • SWOT Analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Opportunities and Threats
  • SWOT Case Studies
  • Assignment 7.1: Project Progress Report Stage 1

Lesson 8: The Project Stage 2: Defining Your Niche and How to Tell Your Artist Story

  • Defining Your Niche
  • How to Tell Your Artist Story and Connect With Your Audience
  • What is a Brand?
  • Building a Follower Base One Follower at a Time
  • Assignment 8.1: Project Progress Report Part 2

Lesson 9: The Project Stage 3 and Your Folder of Assets

  • Folder of Assets Overview
  • Folder of Assets: How to Write an Effective Artist Bio
  • Folder of Assets: Artist One-Sheet
  • Folder of Assets: Artist Website
  • Assignment 9.1: Project Progress Report Stage 3

Lesson 10: The Project Stage 4 and The Start Up of You

  • Why The You, Inc?
  • You, Inc - Key Aspects
  • The Artist-Entrepreneur Defined
  • What is the Entrepreneurial Mindset?
  • Crafting an Elevator Pitch
  • Assignment 10.1: Project Progress Report Stage 4
  • Assignment 10.2: Crafting An Elevator Pitch

Lesson 11: The Project Stage 5 and Effective Presentation Skills

  • It’s All In How You Present Yourself
  • The Art of Presenting Part 1
  • The Art of Presenting Part 2
  • Assignment 11.1: Final Culminating Experience Project First Draft

Lesson 12: Reflection and Building Relationships

  • Relationship Building in Professional Life
  • Forming Solid Connections
  • Where to Network
  • Reflective Journal


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Students must have completed all but three remaining courses in their concentration and major electives before taking this course.


  • No textbooks required; Weekly articles will be assigned utilizing online resources.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Sean Hagon


Sean Peter Hagon (he/him) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and orchestrator for the film, television, and advertisement industries, and the chief creative officer and managing partner of Raging Cloud Studios. As dean of pre-college, online, and professional programs at Berklee Online, Hagon oversees Berklee Online's academic and registrar areas as well as Summer Programs. He previously served as associate dean of career education and services and as chair of the Professional Music Department at Berklee. Prior to his appointment at Berklee, he was the director of continuing education at New England Conservatory. He's also a visiting professor at the Universidad Panamericana School of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, Mexico. An active film and television composer, he has a number of TV and film composing credits to his name, including the History Channel's hit show American Pickers, PBS's Genealogy Roadshow, and the independent films Ride the Wave and Seduction and Snacks.

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A Massachusetts native, Hagon has worked in nearly every aspect of the music industry, from performance, business, composition, and education to technology and production. His educational and administrative philosophy is that he wants students to be able to have the freedom to explore and feel inspired. Most importantly, he wants students to come away with the feeling that what they have learned is relevant, real-world–based knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply, tempered with an entrepreneurial spirit and the mindset to continue to learn and adapt throughout their careers.

Hagon holds a B.M. in professional music from Berklee with concentrations in music education, music production, and film and TV composition; a master's degree in music technology from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; and a diploma in media composition from the London School of Creative Studies.

Hagon was the recipient of the 2010 Exemplary Music Educator Award from Berklee College of Music in recognition of his outstanding teaching and efforts to advance the music education profession. Read Less

Kirstie Wheeler


Kirstie Wheeler is an educational consultant in the New England area and an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music. She has a strong background in education where she spent 10+ years in a diverse set of public schools in the northeast eventually leading her to consultant-based roles in K-12 education while working in higher education. Kirstie feels strongly that all students need access to an equitable education and that all teachers and faculty need to be supported in order to reach this goal. As a consultant, she worked as an Intervention Coordinator at an independent school in Maine using data to inform instruction and identify students who need additional support. This work led to the opening of the school’s first Achievement Center and several professional development offerings for faculty and staff throughout the year. At Berklee College of Music, Kirstie recently developed and began teaching a new course titled Wellness for the Holistic Artist which is running during the 2023/24 academic year and slated to continue. Kirstie is regularly featured as a speaker and clinician in the New England area.

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As a performer, she sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, chorus to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops and continues to perform in her community for various events. Wheeler is a certified McClosky Voice Technician where she currently serves as Vice President, using her knowledge of vocal physiology and pedagogy to prepare students for a lifetime of healthy singing. This commitment is evident in her private teaching. Kirstie’s Voice Studio is limited only by her own time and capacity. Serving students both in person and online, she works with students of all ages and prepares them for their individual goals. Whether a novice who wants to learn to match pitch and carry a tune or a student hoping to be ready for their next audition, Kirstie creates an individual pathway to help them achieve their goals. Students have been accepted to many prestigious music programs and every student she’s prepared received at least one college acceptance. When goals are of vocation based, Kirstie supports students to help them find the joy the desire in making music - many students have gone on to find they love to perform at open mic nights or community choruses. Read Less


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