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Music Theory and Aural Skills

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! Music theory is the study of musical structures: rhythm, meter, scales, intervals, chords, melodies harmonies, chord progressions, etc. Aural skills include performing all of these musical structures and identifying them, which are activities known, respectively, as sight-reading and dictation.

Transfer Students

Students who enter Texas State with college-level theory and aural skills courses on their transcript will be enrolled into classes during their initial advising session. No placement testing is required; however, all non-Music Studies music majors must pass the Theory Proficiency Exam before graduating. Music Studies majors must pass the Theory Proficiency Exam before student teaching.

First-Semester Music Majors

All first-semester music majors complete a Theory Entrance Exam on the first day of their first semester at Texas State. Topics on the test include:

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

A score of at least 70% enables students to remain enrolled in degree-required MU 1315 - Music Theory I and MU 1115 - Aural Skills I, the first two courses in the music theory and aural skills sequence of classes. A score of 69% or lower will require enrollment in MU 1112 Basic Musicianship, a non-degree applicable course. Therefore, incoming students are encouraged to prepare for the Theory Entrance Exam, to qualify to begin immediately with the degree-required courses.

Music theory professor, Dr. Cynthia I. Gonzales, has created an online music fundamentals website, complete with practice tests, to assist you in preparing for the Theory Entrance Exam. Once you have been accepted into the School of Music and registered for New Student Orientation, you will be given access to this website. This will allow you a couple of months to prepare for the exam. If you have not received access one month before your first semester begins, contact Dr. Gonzales via email to request access.

Once enrolled at Texas State, music majors are encouraged to visit the free tutoring center — The Center for Aural and Theory Tutoring (CATT) — if you need assistance with homework or preparing for tests. Located in room 129 in the Music Building, hours of operation are posted at the beginning of each semester. The CATT Office announcements are also posted on Facebook:

AP Music Theory Exam

Visit AP Music Theory Exam for information about credit received for the AP Music Theory Exam. Students who score a 3 receive credit for MU 1112. Students who score a 4 or higher receive credit for MU 1112, MU 1115, and MU 1315.

Aural Skills

Although there is no specific entrance test in aural skills, all music majors — regardless of primary instrument — are required to sing in aural skills classes. The ability to sing in tune is fundamental; voice quality does not matter.