Applied Music Placement Auditions 2.7 - 2.9

2.7.            Major Ensembles

All undergraduate majors must enroll in a major ensemble each semester they are enrolled in the School of Music and Dance. All students taking applied lessons must be enrolled the major ensemble. Graduate students may apply three units of ensemble credit to the graduate requirement of 30 units. 

Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion

Wind Ensemble/Symphonic Band is the required major performing ensemble. Placement into the Wind Ensemble or Symphonic Band is determined by the faculty at placement auditions. The Orchestra conductor and the Wind Ensemble director will make Orchestra wind and percussion assignments in consultation with the applied instructors. Students must play a prepared piece and sight read. 


Orchestra is the required performing ensemble. Sign-up sheets for an audition time will be posted outside the Orchestra Director’s office. Students must play a prepared piece and sight read. 

Vocal Majors

Concert Choir is the required major performing ensemble. Sign-up for auditions here.

Jazz Studies

Jazz Orchestra (MUSC 157) and Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (MUSC 159) are approved major performing ensembles. Assignments are made by the Jazz Studies coordinator and the ensemble directors.

Piano Students

Consult with the Director of Keyboard studies for an appropriate major ensemble assignment. BM-Performance students may use Music 143 (accompanying) as the ensemble requirement in their senior year.


2.8.            Music Systems (Music Theory and Ear-Training) Placement Examination


School policy requires that incoming freshmen take a general music fundamentals placement test for course placement purposes during the first week of the fall term. Based on results of the test, freshman students will be advised to enroll in the appropriate courses. It is the responsibility of the Systems Area Coordinator to administer the test and to determine which courses the student should take. In preparation for this exam, students should consult the study material in the most current edition of Harder & Steinke. Basic Materials in Music Theory, 12th ed., 2009; or Steinke. Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music, Part 1, 10th ed., 2009).  A four-week refresher course for music fundamentals is available here.


Transfer students who have completed Music Systems/Theory and aural skills courses for four semesters at another university or junior college are automatically eligible for upper division theory courses. It is recommended, however, that in preparation for these courses, students review the materials outlined in the most current edition of Steinke. Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music, Part 1, 10th ed., 2009; and/or any standard college theory text such as: Koska.Tonal Harmony.  A four-week refresher course for music fundamentals is available here.

2.9.            Piano Proficiency Exams

For those students with a piano background who feel they are capable of passing the piano proficiency exam prior to enrolling in the class, the exam will be administered once each semester on audition day. If you have passed the piano proficiency exam, you do not need to enroll in 25A or 25B. 

All music majors must be enrolled in Music 25A or 25B until they have passed their piano proficiency exam. Instructors will determine student placement in 25A or 25B. To advance from 25A to 25B, a student must receive a grade of B or better. 

All lower division majors are encouraged to pass the piano requirement before reaching upper division status. Freshmen, in particular, should enroll immediately in 25A as the skills acquired will help in Music Systems. 

Upper division transfer music majors must enroll in class piano each semester until their proficiency requirement has been passed. 

It is possible to receive a passing grade in 25A or B and still not pass the proficiency exam. Often a student will make enormous progress during a given term but still not pass each area of the exam. Even if both 25A/B appear on your transcript, all portions of the exam must be passed for the proficiency to be complete. The completed piano proficiency exam sheet will be placed in your student file at that time.

All students must be enrolled in 25A or 25B in order to take the proficiency exam. No proficiency exam will be heard outside of scheduled 25A/B class time except on audition day for students with prior piano experience

Piano Proficiency Requirements:

A.   Repertoire

Play one composition of intermediate difficulty approved by the instructor. Suggestions include literature comparable to Easier Piano Classics (Hal Leonard Publishing), a Sonatina of Clementi or Kuhlau, a Bach Two Part Invention, or other repertoire approved by the instructor or area coordinator. Passing will consist of careful execution of the notation (dynamics, articulation, tempo, continuity, etc.), stylistic character and musicianship. Correct use of the pedal must be demonstrated if appropriate. 

Play a choral-style or four-part hymn, a twentieth century composition, or an accompaniment to a piece in your area approved by the instructor. Your choice should be appropriate with your degree objectives. 

B.   Technical Skills


Play major and minor (natural and harmonic forms), all keys, two octaves, hands together, with correct fingering. Speed is not as critical as consistency and continuity. The instructor will choose which scales are executed.

Chord progressions:

Play major and minor, all keys, as follows: 

IV6/4-I-V6/5-I (two handed harmony). Handouts will be provided. The instructor will choose which keys are executed. 

C.   Sight Reading and Harmonization

  • Sight read an elementary level piece and transpose to a closely related key.
  • Harmonize a simple melody at sight using I, IV, V chords (melody in the right hand/chords in the left hand).