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Aural Diagnostic and Music Theory Placement Information

On audition day you will perform on your primary instrument and you may be asked to complete an aural diagnostic to determine your aural skill development (ability to connect written music with music as you hear it or can imagine its sound). If your instrument/voice area does not ask you to complete these exercises during your audition and you are accepted to the School of Music, these are items you are encouraged to practice on your own over the summer to ensure success in Aural Skills courses.


Aural Diagnostic Assessment Exercises


You will be asked to demonstrate your ability to:

  •  match pitch (we play a pitch at the piano, and you sing the same pitch anywhere in your singing range)
  •  compare two pitches played on the piano - is the second pitch higher, lower, or the same as the first?
  • sing a major scale (in any key)
  • echo-sing a short tune
  • sing "Happy Birthday"
  • sight-sing a melody
  • echo-clap rhythmic patterns
  • sight-read a rhythm in 4/4 and in 6/8

Most of the above activities require singing. If you're not a singer, you may want to practice these activities prior to your audition day.


Music Theory Placement Exam


All degree programs in the School of Music include required courses in music theory and aural skills. These courses are designed to increase your musical skills and your knowledge about how music "works", how composers combine scales and chords to create music, and about so much more!

During summer advising, first-year students scoring a 4 or 5 on the AP theory test will be advised into Music Theory II and Aural Skills II.

First-year students who took and passed a HS theory course with an A or B or scored a 3 on the AP theory test will be advised into Music Theory I and Aural Skills I.

Remaining first-year students will be advised temporarily into Basic Musicianship (a course for students with limited or no background in music theory).

During new student orientation, all music majors will be added to a music theory TRACS site which will allow access to music theory resources, worksheets, practice exams, and much more that will ensure you receive the highest score you can on the placement exam on the first class day.

On the first day of classes, all sections of Aural Skills I and Basic Musicianship will give a placement exam. This placement exam will determine placement in either Music Theory I and Aural Skills I or Basic Musicianship.

You will be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of:

  • notating pitches on the treble and bass clefs
  • notating major and minor scales
  • identifying major and minor scales in a musical excerpt
  • notating and identifying key signatures
  • notating intervals above and below a given pitch
  • identifying intervals
  • analyzing meter and rhythm
  • completing measures with the correct rest
  • determining the appropriate time signature for a given measure

The above list is comprehensive. If any of the material is unfamiliar to you, the one-semester course, Basic Musicianship will give you the opportunity to learn this material before enrolling in Music Theory and Aural Skills I.