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Placement Procedure for Music Major Courses

Students who plan to major in Music or take Music major classes MUST complete the Musicianship Placement Exam or earn a passing grade in Music 20A (Basic Musicianship) 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.

Registration for the Spring 2022 Undergraduate Music Major Orientation (Fri 1/14 from 10am-12pm) and Placement Exams is now closed. Check back in July 2022 for information about the Fall 2022 Undergraduate Music Major Orientation and Placement Exams.

Please note that the guidelines below refer to the in-person version of the Musicianship Placement Exam. The online Musicianship exam covers the same content but is administered in a different format (recorded video audition + live Zoom individual appointment).

Musicianship Placement Exam

The Musicianship Placement Exam (MPE) is held in two parts. Please note: You must complete both parts of the exam in order to receive placement. Placement into a course does not guarantee a seat in the class.

1) Theory & Dictation Test: a short written theory exam and musical dictation required of all incoming music majors or students who plan to take music major classes. This portion will last no more than one hour. Bring a pencil with an eraser.

2) Individual Audition and Sight Singing Exam: required of all incoming music majors or students who plan to take music major classes; administered in 10-minute appointments scheduled prior to the audition date.

  • 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 email Mark Mueller, Operations Manager ( 3 business days in advance 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).

Questions about the MPE? Email the instructor-in-charge: Matthew Hough,

Criteria for Placement in the Musicianship Series

Please see the placement criteria page for more information.

Advanced Harmony Placement Exam

The Advanced Harmony Placement Exam (AHPE) is 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.

  • If you intend to take this exam, you may sign up for a Musicianship Placement audition appointment during this same time frame. In this case, you will be excused from the exam during your audition time and allowed to return afterward.

Questions about the AHPE? Email the instructor-in-charge: David Pereira,

Piano Music 45M Placement

If you are an intending music major and have little or no keyboard experience, you are strongly encouraged to take Music 45M (Elementary Piano) while you are completing your lower division musicianship and harmony requirements. For admission to Music 45M, you must take the Musicianship Placement Exam and the Music 45M Placement Exam. Priority for enrollment is given to Music Majors enrolled in Musicianship 52A, 52B or 152A. A sign up sheet for the Music 45M 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: 1) they have had little to no aural training or music theory study, in which case they should enroll in Music 20A*; or 2) they have had extensive formal training in musicianship, theory and part-writing, in which case they should look at the placement criteria for musicianship and harmony in order to estimate where they will place. Adjustments to your schedule can be made during the add/drop period during the semester.

*Students with little to no experience with aural training or music theory study should sign up for 20A before beginning the music major classes in musicianship and harmony. Once they have successfully completed 20A, they may proceed with music major classes (52A/53A and above). 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.