Your best bet when beginning a new research paper is to start general and work your way more specific.
For a 5-10 page paper, your research question will need to be more specific than you might think! A good rule is that if a whole book has been written on your topic, then you should get more specific.
Find answers to common questions, discover solutions to common problems, and more!
Reference works (encyclopedias, bibliographies, dictionaries) are great for getting background information. Try these reference databases:
Oxford Music Online (formerly Grove Music Online) -- great for this class!
Berg Fashion Library (also known as Bloomsbury Fashion Central) -- great for this class!
RILM Music Encyclopedias -- great for this class!
Wikipedia (yes, it can be OK to use Wikipedia to gather ideas and names in order to start your research)
As you find background material, keep a list of terms and keywords -- these keywords will be helpful to use later when you search for scholarly articles. Keeping a list of terms is also helpful for when you need to find alternate terms or synonyms.
Try using a worksheet to keep track of related terms for your research, like this one:
Start your research by searching for books in the library catalog. A benefit of finding books first is they can give you an idea of scope for your paper. For instance, if a whole book has been written on your topic, you will need to make your topic much more specific (afterall, nobody wants to write in 15 pages what someone else had 300 pages to do).
Tip: Use the keywords you found in reference sources to search for books.
Pro-tip: Once you have found at least ONE relevant book in the library catalog, look at the linked subjects in the catalog record. When you click a linked subject, the library catalog will retrieve all the other books on that same topic.
Go to the next page (Find Books) to get specific advice on using the library catalog to find books.