Music Theory Placement

MUSC 0550/0560 (Theory of Tonal Music)

Students interested in taking MUSC0550 (or in placing out of MUSC0550) MUST take a placement test at the first class meeting. Both sections of the class will meet at that time in the same room. This will be your only opportunity to take the test. Those who miss the test will be unable to take MUSC0550 that year. 

Music Theory FAQs

Why should I take MUSC0550/0560?

MUSC0550 and MUSC0560 are required for all three music concentration tracks. These courses provide a thorough grounding in principles of voice leading and harmony that are the basis of Western music from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century, as well as training in aural and musicianship skills including sight singing and keyboard harmony.

What if I don't want to be a concentrator but just want to take a few music courses?

Many skilled musicians choose to take MUSC0550-560 regardless of whether they plan to concentrate. These courses are a prerequisite for a number of upper-level music courses.

What if I can't get into MUSC0550, is there a theory alternative for me?

Students who don't yet have the skills for MUSC0550 can register for MUSC0400 (Introduction to Music Theory), which is offered every year. Another excellent way to prepare for MUSC0550 is to take private instrumental lessons, preferably keyboard lessons, that include a strong component in the rudiments of music.

What if I took a lot of theory in high school?

The Department of Music does not award course credit for Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses; however, students with considerable background in theory occasionally place out of MUSC0550 and/or MUSC0560. Students interested in placing out of MUSC0550 or MUSC0560 should take the placement test for MUSC0550 and then consult individually with the director of the course.

When is the placement test offered?

The placement test for MUSC0550 is always offered at the first class meeting.

If I want to get course credit for private lessons, will I still need to take theory?

Students taking private lessons through the Applied Music Program (AMP) are required to take one semester of college-level theory.

If I have a strong theory background, can I place out of the AMP theory requirement?

Students with extensive background in music theory can place out of the AMP theory requirement by passing the Department's AMP theory placement exam, which is administered at the beginning of each fall semester. Students who pass this exam may substitute any full-credit music course (or two half-credit music courses) for the required music theory course.

When and where is the AMP theory placement exam administered?

The theory exam is administered on the first day of classes.

Do I just show up or do I have to let someone know I want to take the AMP theory placement exam?

You can show up to the scheduled test, which will be announced on the auditions schedule.

What if I'm not available at the time the AMP theory placement exam is given?

Students who wish to take the exam but are unable to take it at the specified time should be in touch with Arlene Cole as soon as possible.