In the fall, all incoming first-year music majors are required to take the theory placement examination. This is scheduled the week before classes begin. The examination takes about an hour, and comprises written theory and aural skills portions. Topics include key signatures, scales, intervals, triads and seventh chords, rhythm and meter, Roman numerals, and melodic and harmonic dictation. Students are not expected to know all this information: the test assesses students’ current familiarity and facility with theory fundamentals. From the results, we can appropriately place students in first-year theory core courses at intensive, mainstream, or honors levels. Students can prepare for the placement exam by studying a fundamentals text or website (some of which include aural skills lessons and reinforcement). See the lists below for some suggestions.
Advanced placement music theory students
Students who earn a composite score of 4 for AP Music Theory are generally exempt from first-semester theory core courses. Those with a score of 5 are generally exempt from the entire first year of the theory core. These students are still required to take the placement exam so that we can confirm their knowledge and skill levels.