The Evaluation and Design of an Undergraduate Music Theory Placement Exam

Author(s): 
Barbara Murphy
Volume: 
13
Year: 
1999
Material: 
Abstract: 

According to the National Association of Schools of Music 1999-2000 Handbook, all music majors must have certain competencies in aural skills and analysis, composition and improvisation, repertory and history, technology, and synthesis of ideas. Generally, students meet these requirements by taking courses in Basic Musicianship which include courses in Theory, Ear-training, and Musicology. These courses comprise 20-35 percent of their curriculum (24-42 hours of a typical 120 semester hour curriculum). Even though NASM states that to be admitted to a baccalaureate degree in music, students should possess a musical background that al lows them to "relate musical sound to notation and terminology both quickly and accurately enough to undertake basic musician ship studies," many students enter college without this prerequisite knowledge. Some students enter music study having had no theory background; their only exposure to music has been in band or choir where little or no explanation of theoretical concepts has taken place. Other students may be able to read multiple clefs and play certain scales and intervals but may not know what they are playing. Still other students have taken theory in school or summer camp and they may be knowledgeable in theoretical concepts through chords or even part-writing.