Placement Procedure for Music Major Courses

Student practice musicianship.

Musicianship students practicing outside Morrison Hall.

Students who plan to major in music or wish to take music major classes MUST complete the Musicianship Placement Exam before beginning music major classes. Students may pre-enroll (see below) in classes before the Music Placement Exam and make adjustments to their schedule during the add/drop period if necessary.


Undergraduate Orientation

An Undergraduate Orientation is held once before the beginning of each semester. The orientation reviews important information such as placement exams, major requirements, program planning, major resources, and student life. It is imperative that prospective music majors make every possible effort to attend.

Spring 2018 Undergraduate Orientation: Friday, 01/12, 10-11am, 117 Morrison.


Musicianship Placement Exam

The Musicianship Placement Exam is required of all incoming music majors and students who wish to take music major classes. To register for the Musicianship Placement Exam complete the online registration form. See date, time, and location in the form.

The Musicianship Placement Exam is offered once per term only. No make-up exams will be offered.

For more information on which course you may place in given your musical knowledge and experience, as well as how to prepare for the exam, see musicianship placement criteria.

The exam comprises two parts; students must attend both the audition and the written portions to complete the exam.

Written portion (theory and dictation):

  • A short written theory exam and musical dictation;
  • Held during the first class meeting of Music 52A every semester*;
  • Expected to last up to an hour;
  • Students must bring a pencil and an eraser.

*Students may find the date and time of the written and dictation test by searching for Music 52A in the Berkeley Class Schedule. Enrollment in Music 52A does not present a schedule conflict for taking the Musicianship Placement Exam.

Audition and sight singing portion:

  • Students will play an instrument of their choice and be required to sight sing a passage;
  • Appointments are typically offered in the 3 business days leading up to the first day of classes every semester;
  • Administered individually by appointment only (sign up for an appointment in the online registration form below);
  • Expected to take about 10-15 minutes;

If you play an instrument (other than piano, organ, or harpsichord) that you are unable to bring to the Musicianship Placement Exam, you may be able to borrow one from the department. Please check in advance with Mark Mueller to be sure that the instrument you need is available to borrow.

Note that this audition appointment pertains to the Musicianship Placement Exam only. If students intend to join a performance ensemble or another course that requires an audition, they must still audition for them separately (see audition information).



Harmony Advanced Placement Exam

Required only for those incoming music majors or students who plan to take music major classes, who have previously studied four-part writing and can realize a figured bass or harmonize a melody. In other words, if you have sufficient background that you think you may place ahead in the harmony sequence, rather than at the beginning of the harmony sequence, this test is for you. This is an optional exam and can take up to 2 hours.

The Harmony Advanced Placement Exam is offered the business day before the first day of classes. See the date, time, and location in the online registration form; be sure to indicate your attendance in the form.

See harmony placement criteria for more information.



Piano Music 405 Placement

If you are an intending music major and have little or no keyboard experience, you are strongly encouraged to take Piano 405 while you are completing your musicianship and harmony requirements. For admission to Piano 405, you must take the Musicianship Placement Exam and the Piano 405 Placement Exam. Priority for enrollment is given to Music Majors enrolled in Musicianship 52A, 52B, or 152A. A sign up sheet for the Music 405 Placement Exam will be posted on the bulletin board outside room 107 during the first week of classes. Be sure to sign up.


Pre-enrollment Recommendations

Students wishing to pre-enroll in music major courses before completing the Placement Procedure should enroll in 52A and 53A unless they have had considerable formal training in musicianship and/or harmony. Those who have had formal training should look at the placement criteria for musicianship and harmony and estimate where they will place. Adjustments to your schedule can be made during the add/drop period during the semester.

Students with little musical background should sign up for 20A before beginning the music major classes in musicianship and harmony. Once they have acquired more musical skills, they may take the Musicianship Placement Exam to see if they qualify for music major classes. See the criteria for placement in the musicianship series if you think this might apply to you.


Placement Exam Policy

Students should plan to take Music 52A (Musicianship I) and 53A (Harmony I) concurrently. An exception can be made for qualified students who are unable to take both classes concurrently due to heavy course loads or schedule conflicts, in which case students should take Music 53A first unless instructed otherwise. However, the Musicianship Placement Exam is required even if students are only taking 53A.

The Music Department only offers one section of 52A and 53A in spring semesters. Entry into these classes will be competitive based on Placement Exam results. The continuing sequence of those classes (Fall 52B-53B, Spring 152A-153A) will also have only one section each. Students should plan to take their musicianship and harmony classes without interruption to maximize their chances of securing a spot.