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Music Theory & Aural Skills for Incoming Undergraduates

All undergraduate music degrees require classes in Music Theory and Aural Skills. These courses are designed to increase your musical skills and knowledge about how music "works,” about how composers combine scales and chords to create music, and 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, known, respectively, as sight singing and dictation.

This page provides detailed information for students new to the School of Music.

If you have further questions after reading the detailed information on this page, please contact:

          Dr. Cynthia I. Gonzales (“Dr. G”)

 


First-Semester Music Majors

All first-semester music majors (with not credits for college-level theory and aural skills) take an online placement test before the semester begins. Via email, you will receive information about how to take the online placement exam in the months before the semester begins. If you have not received information by July 1st for Fall semesters or January 1st for Spring, then contact Dr. G, whose email is below.

The results of this Theory Placement Exam determine whether you start with MU 1113 Aural Skills I & MU 1315 Music Theory I, or MU 1112 Basic Musicianship (fall semesters) or MU 1312 Essential Musicianship (spring semesters). Test topics include:

  • Rhythm: complete measures with the correct rest
  • Time Signatures: determine the appropriate time signature for a given measure
  • Staff: notate pitches on the treble and bass clefs
  • Scales: notate major and minor scales
  • Key Signatures: notate and identifying key signatures
  • Intervals: identify and notate intervals above and below a given pitch
  • Triads: spell major and minor triads

Prior to taking the online test, prepare for the Theory Placement Exam. Students who prepare are more likely to pass than those who do not.

1. TXST New Music Majors is a website created to help you study. Via email, you will receive an invitation to join the site in the months before you enroll. If you have not received an invitation by July 1st for Fall or January 1st for Spring semesters, then contact Dr. G, whose email is below.

2. Other online resources (mostly free):

Downloadable software (ca. $40):

3. Download and print out Practice Exams and corresponding Answer Keys. In recent years, students have reported that working through these practice exams was crucial to passing the exam. (These exams pre-date online placement testing and may refer to a pencil-and-paper test administered the first day of classes. As of Fall 2019, all placement testing is online).

Practice Exam A

Practice Exam A Answer Key

Practice Exam B Practice Exam B Answer Key

 

4. Three online practice exams in the format of the online TXST Theory Placement Exam are available and may be repeated as many times as needed:

Short version (does not include triads): https://txstate.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9uzk7dt34TLMRcW

Long version (does not include triads): https://txstate.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dhGG0apDT3wTGxU

Triad only version: https://txstate.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a5BN3Vo3Zk67606

These practice tests will give you a final score, but will not allow you to review your work after receiving your score. To take a practice test that allows you to review your work and correct answers, visit the Canvas site TXST New Music Majors described in #1 above.

 


Credit for AP Music Theory

If you took the AP Music Theory Exam, be certain that TXST was listed as a school to receive your score.

Students who earn a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Exam receive credit for MU 1112, MU 1115, and MU 1315. If TXST has your scores on file when you see an advisor, you will be allowed to enroll in MU 1116 and MU 1316. If your scores arrive after you enroll for classes, you will be allowed to change courses at the beginning of the semester.

Students who score a 3 on the AP Exam receive credit for MU 1112, as well as enroll in MU 1115 and MU 1315.

NOTE: All incoming music majors must take the TXST Theory Placement Exam as described above, even those who earn a passing score on the AP exam. Having taken the AP exam does not exempt you from taking the placement exam. Historically, students who have completed an AP Music Theory class pass the TXST Theory Placement Exam.

For more information, visit the Testing Evaluation and Measurement Center.

 


Transfer Students

  1. Transfer students who have completed four semesters of Music Theory & Aural Skills at another institution:
    1. Your transcript will be evaluated by an advisor
    2. You will not be asked to re-take courses for which you already have credit
    3. Complete the Theory Proficiency Exam as soon as possible after arriving at TXST
  2. Transfer students who have completed fewer than four semesters of Music Theory & Aural Skills:
    1. Your transcript will be evaluated by an advisor
    2. You will not be asked to re-take courses for which you already have credit
    3. Enroll in the “next” course: if you already have credit for two semesters of Music Theory & Aural Skills, for example, then register for third-semester courses
  3. Transfer students who have no college-level credits in Music Theory & Aural Skills:
    1. Follow the instructions for First-Semester Music Majors

 

CENTER FOR AURAL and THEORY TUTORING (The CATT Office)

Once enrolled at Texas State, music majors are encouraged to visit the free tutoring center — The Center for Aural and Theory Tutoring (CATT) — for assistance with homework or when preparing for tests. The CATT Office also has review materials for the Theory Proficiency Exam.

Located in room 129 of the Music Building, hours of operation are posted at the beginning of each semester. The CATT Office announcements are also posted on Facebook.