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Texas State University-San Marcos
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San Marcos, Texas 78666
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Aural Skills Assessment and Music Theory Placement for new undergraduate music students

 To Musicians Auditioning for the Texas State University-San Marcos School of Music:

On audition day you will perform on your primary instrument, and also take a simple diagnostic assessment to determine your aural skill development (ability to connect written music with music as you hear it or can imagine its sound).

Assessment of Musicianship Skills

You will 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 "warm up the pipes" and practice these activities.)

Theory Placement

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," about 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 Theory II and Aural Learning II.

First-year students who took and passed a HS theory course with an A or B will be advised into Theory I--Aural I (regardless of whether they took or scored well on the actual AP Exam).

Remaining first-year students will be advised temporarily into Basic Musicianship.

On the first day of classes, all sections of Aural Learning I and Basic Musicianship (a prerequisite to Theory/Aural I for those with no background in music theory) will give a placement test. This placement exercise will determine placement, that is, readiness to proceed with Theory I and Aural Learning I or the need first to study Basic Musicianship.

This test includes:

  • notate pitches on the treble and bass clefs
  • notate major and minor scales
  • identify major and minor scales in a musical excerpt
  • notate and identify key signatures
  • notate intervals above and below a given pitch
  • identify intervals
  • analyze meter and rhythm
  • complete a measure with the correct rest
  • determine an 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 at Texas State titled Basic Musicianship will give you the opportunity to learn this material before enrolling in Theory 1.