Music Theory Placement Exam

A student’s first music theory course assignment is determined by a theory diagnostic exam and a sight singing placement exam that are administered online prior to orientation. Students who demonstrate proficiency on these exams will be placed into MUTH 101 (Theory and Aural Skills I) or higher. Those who do not will be placed into MUTH 101i, (Intensified Theory and Aural Skills I).

Incoming undergraduate music majors are expected to enter CWRU with a fundamental working knowledge of and proficiency in reading of treble and/or bass clef, key signatures, and major and minor scales, along with the ability to vocally match pitches played on the piano. These skills are necessary for music theory courses taught through the Cleveland Institute of Music, which are a significant part of the required music major curriculum.

During the placement exam, students should be prepared to do the following:

Written fundamentals

  • Read treble, bass, and alto clefs
  • Recognize, identify, and correctly write key signatures for any major or minor key
  • Be able to write major and minor scales using necessary accidentals rather than key signatures.
  • Identify and write major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads in root position
  • Write and identify intervals through the octave.

Ear training

  • Be able to identify triad qualities (root position major, minor, augmented, and diminished)
  • Identify intervals through the perfect octave by ear
  • Correctly write the soprano and bass lines of a short harmonic dictation. We ask for the Roman numeral analysis for placement purposes, not as a requirement for MUTH 101.

Individual sight singing placement evaluation

  • Students will be given the starting pitch and letter names for each of the following:
  • Sing a major scale (ascending and descending) with letter names
  • Sing a harmonic minor scale (ascending and descending) with letter names
  • Sing a major and a minor root position triad with letter names.
  • Sing three intervals (they can be ascending or descending) up to/including a perfect 5th.
  • Sight read two short, simple melodies. One is in treble clef, one is in bass. One is in a major key and one is in a minor key. The only skips in these melodies will be within the tonic triad.

Students can prepare for the exam by using the following resources: