Go back

Music Skills Assessment

The Music Skills Assessment is a short assessment of your theory and ear-training ability and  experience. The results of the assessment do not in any way impact your admission status or scholarship possibilities. Its only purpose is to help our theory faculty know which theory course is most suitable for you in your first year as a music major.

The Music Skills Assessment helps our theory faculty place you into an appropriate theory and ear-training course sequence. Completing this task on your audition day allows you to pre-register in the correct classes during Gov's ROW (summer orientation), rather than waiting until the first day of classes.

Prospective and incoming students take the assessment on their audition day. Students who enter on probationary status (without an audition) will take the exam on the first class day.

The answer to this question depends on your experiences and knowledge of theory. Students with a broad knowledge of theory may finish the exam in a few minutes. Others with less experience may take more time as needed. We estimate the average time to be 10 to 20 minutes for students with a moderate theory background, although you may take more time if needed.

The majority of incoming students will be placed in the first semester theory and ear training class:

  • MUS 1057 Music Theory 1 / MUS 1058 Ear Training I                  

These classes will concentrate on developing your reading and listening skills, as well as cover topics including music notation, scales, meters, intervals, and chords. You will also do work in the study of melody and harmony. The Ear Training class will cover basic ear training and sight singing, interval and chord identification, as well as melodic dictation.

Depending on your musical background, it may be possible to test out of either the first semester or even the entire first year of theory. In these instances, a student might be placed in either the second or third semesters of the theory sequence:

  • MUS 1155 Music Theory / MUS 1156 Ear Training II        
    MUS 2055 Music Theory / MUS 2056 Ear Training III                

For those students who have little or no background in music theory, there are introductory theory classes that cover the basics of theory and music notation, as well as an introduction to ear training:

  • MUS 1040 & MUS 1050 Introduction to Music Theory 1 & 2

Here is a list of some things that you can study on your own or with your music teachers in order to prepare for the Music Skills Assessment. Basic theory skills are those needed to place into Music Theory I and Ear Training I; your ability to handle the Intermediate and Advanced skills will determine more advanced placement:

Basic Theory Skills

  • Read music in both treble and bass clefs
  • Identify all basic note values and rests
  • Understand basic time signatures and how to group notes to fit within these time signatures
  • Recognize all simple intervals (from unisons to octaves)
  • Write out all key signatures, in both major and minor keys
  • Write out all scales, both major and (natural) minor

Intermediate Theory Skills

  • Write out all major and minor scales (both melodic and harmonic minor)
  • Recognize both simple and compound meters (time signatures)
  • Recognize triads by mode (major, minor, augmented, diminished) and inversion (root position, first and second inversion)
  • Recognize all major, minor and perfect intervals; as well as basic diminished and augmented intervals;
  • Sight read simple melodies in major and minor keys;
  • Count and perform simple rhythmic patterns in a variety of different meters (time signatures)

Advanced Theory Skill

  • Harmonize a simple chorale melody and realize a simple figured bass.

There are a number of free access websites that have music theory materials that can help you prepare for the theory diagnostic:


Music Notes

Teoría: Music Theory Web