College & University Information Page for Music Majors

This page is to give you some information of the type of requirements that you will need in order to get into and pass a college or university music program. Please understand that schools may have different requirements, and their requirements may have been changed or been updated over time. This is the type of things that I've done in both my undergraduate and graduate studies. The requirements are below. If you would like to download a PDF document of the requirements that I've typed up, please click here for the music requirements write up. Also, I have some links to the music department webpages of many colleges and universities both in the state of California, as well as some well-known out-of-state colleges and universities. Please click here for the music department web pages.

Summary of General Music Major Requirements

by Galene Martinez

Elementary Piano

1.  All Scales - Major and harmonic minor (sharp seventh degree), it is also good to know the natural minor and melodic minor scales (ascending - sharp sixth & seventh degrees; descending - natural sixth and seventh degrees).  Scales should be done in three octaves with eighth notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes.  Also the broken chords on the sheets provided.

2.  Harmonic worksheets - I, I-A, I-B, I-C, II, III, V, V-a, VI.  You should be able to play all worksheets, in any key (major or minor) asked.  Memorization of these chord progressions is a good goal.  Learning the basic cadences:  perfect authentic, imperfect authentic, plagal and deceptive as named with good voice leading is the best way to memorize them.  Also learning some of the basic modulations fro tonic to dominant, tonic to relative minor and minor to relative major.

3.  Pieces - Any short and challenging piano pieces are good to play, but the Bartok Mikrokosmos  volumes are good to go through and the Bach Inventions  are the ultimate goal.  Playing a simple patriotic song or hymn accompaniment with the left hand while conducting with the right hand is another good exercise.

4.  Accompanying - Be able to accompany a soloist on a short piece.

5.  Sight reading - Be able to play any type of instrumental piece that is given to you, the most important thing is to keep a steady rhythm, no matter haw slow or fast you play it.  Getting all the notes is not the most important thing to worry about.  Then transpose a piano piece to any key asked.  Sight reading an open choral score in four parts is helpful, and then playing one part and conducting with the other hand.

6.  Improvisation - Sight read a melody, you may have to transpose it as well, and add an appropriate accompaniment.  Then create a melody and accompaniment in ternary form, following common practice principles. A worksheet is included for this, as well as a two-page summary of harmonic progressions.

Basic Musicianship

1.  Rhythm - Worksheets are given out, like the ones provided, and the Robert W. Ottman Music for Sight Singing  book is also used for rhythm exercises.  It is good to be able to say the rhythms and conduct with your hand (either hand).  If there is more than one part for one exercise, you should be able to say one part, tap one part, and conduct with your other hand.  You should be able to conduct or tap with either hand and be able to say either part.  Dictation of rhythms is good.  You will be given the starting time signature.

2.  Sight singing - Atonal sight singing is used often, worksheets are given out, like the following ones.  Also the  Robert W. Ottman Music for Sight Singing  book is also used for sight singing and the Modus Novus  book is used for this too.  Also a reader called The Complete Sightsinger by DeGaetani, Lloyd, and Lloyd is used.  It is also good to practice the moveable C clef - i.e. the soprano, alto (viola), and tenor clefs.  Being able to dictate a melody that modulates is also good.  You will be given the starting key signature and time signature.

3.  Keyboard work - The harmonic worksheets as mentioned in the piano requirement are also used in the musicianship classes.  There are also a number of other things used in musicianship as well, some of which will be under the section of "Play and Sing" because they use the piano and voice for the exercises.  One other type of keyboard exercise that is used are the jazz keyboard chord progressions, like the ones provided.  These should be able to be played in any key, and should be able to be played continuously from one key to the next connecting either by 5ths or 4ths or other intervals stated.  Mark Levine's Jazz Piano Book  is a great book for learning some of the more basic progressions on piano.

4.  Play and sing - This section is a major part of the class, and gets harder and harder as you go along, it will use the piano and voice, as stated above.  One of the first things to start with, is the Bach Chorals, where you sing the soprano line, and play the bass line.  Then you should be able to switch the parts.  At the end you should be able to play any or all parts on the piano and be able to sing any one of the parts.  Also used are the jazz keyboard voicings, as stated in #3.  These are used in a piece, where you have a lead sheet, with the chord symbols, like the ones provided, and you play the chords, and sing the solo.  Another book that is used for this type of exercise, is 28 Modern Jazz Trumpet Solos, by Jamey Aebersold, but in this book, the pieces are written in B-flat, so they have to be transposed to C before playing them.  Also in this section You will do things with a partner, such as doing a string quartet where one person will sing one part, and play another part; and the other person does the same with the remaining two parts.  One thing to remember is that when reading a string quartet score, you will not be able to do the first two parts (i.e. the first and second violins) because that would be to easy, you have to read every other line (i.e. first violin and viola, or second violin and cello), because it is much harder that way.  Some of the more favorite quartets to use are the Mozart and Haydn at first, and the Bartok quartets later on, when it gets really hard (Bartok's #1, #4, and #6 are used often), and will take a lot of individual practice time, and even more time with your partner.  Vocal pieces will also be used in this section, where you will play the piano and sing the vocal line.  Some the favorites for this are Webern and Schoenberg songs.

5. Score reading - (This section will also use piano and voice.)  One book used for this section, is the Morris and Ferguson Preparatory Exercises in Score Reading  book, where you go through and play as many of the parts that you can, and you can sing one of the parts.  Melcher and Warch Music for Score Reading  is another good score reading exercise book.  Another book used is the Dover score of the 11 Bach cantatas, where you do the same as above, play as much as you can, and sing one part.  Another exercise with the Bach cantatas, is to get into groups, and have someone realize the figured bass, and have the other students play and sing the other parts of the piece.  It is also good, if possible, when practicing a score reading exercise, and there are not that many line to play on the piano (2 or 3), to sing one part, play the other parts with one hand on the piano, and conduct with the other hand.  The ideal is to be able to play and conduct with either hand.

6.  Dictation or Ear Training - One of the first things used in this section, are the harmonic worksheets from the piano class, and the jazz keyboard progressions, where the teacher will play either a single chord or a whole chord progression, and you will either have to tell what type of chord it is, or the entire progression (i.e. major, minor, seventh chord; I IV V I progression; or flat 13th chord).  Later you will be asked to identify the chord type, along with which notes are in the bass and top voices (i.e. 5th in bass and 3rd in top voice).  Also in this section, a melody will be played, and you may be asked to write it out as you hear it, given the time and key signatures.  A piece might be played, and you could be asked to write down on of the parts of the piece (i.e. the cello part of a string quartet).  One other favorite thing to do in this section, is when the teacher is playing something on the piano for you to dictate, the teacher might play it in a different key each time she plays it.  One way to practice for this, is to have one or more people take turns playing chords, chord progressions, and melodies; and have the others identify what she is playing.  As mentioned above, dictation of rhythm and a melody that modulates is good.  Then for chord progressions, one will be a basic progression and the other will be an example of chromatic harmony that will modulate.



            Starting out with the Baroque period, mainly with Bach, and moving all the way through to twentieth century music.  One of the first things done is the study of Bach, like the Bach Chorals, where you will analyze the harmonies, and then you will be writing you own Bach choral style pieces.  A good first year final is to write your own Bach choral style piece.  Some of the books used for this class are:  Walter Piston's Harmony , Rodger Sessions' Harmony Practice, and Bach's Chorals .  The Dantalian edition of the Bach Chorals  is nice because is lays out the chorals with the same melody on the same page so that analysis is much easier when comparing the different versions.  Another good book for analysis is the Melcher, Warch and Mast book:  Music for Study - A Source Book of Excerpts .

            Some of the basic things covered in theory are:  root movement in seconds, the cadential 6/4 chord, figured bass, nonharmonic tones, the ii6 chord, phrase/period form, pedal points, functional harmony, suspensions, V7 inversions, other seventh chords, other 6/4 chords, modulations, secondary dominants, binary/ternary forms, augmented sixth chords, enharmonic modulations, borrowed chords, Neapolitan chords and resolutions, enharmonic resolutions, remote modulations, Sonata forms, third relations, extended tertian sonorities (ninths and thirteenths) and chromaticism, harmonic sequences, and text painting.  Looking for these items in your major instrument music will help you to learn and appreciate their functions more.  A two-page summary of harmonic progressions is included.



            Music history will start at the beginning and go all the way up to contemporary music.  Joseph Kerman's Listen  book is a good music appreciation book for starters.  Richard Crocker's A History of Musical Style  and Donald Grout's A History of Western Music  are the biggest books out on music history.  Learning about the main periods of music history and the composers for each period will be required, as well as learning some of the more famous pieces by these composers.  Tests and exams will be given on this material with listening included.  Papers will be assigned and should cover history and background of the subject, the composer and piece, as well as analysis of the piece including its form and harmonic analysis.

            Non-western music history is also good to cover in this category.  Jeff Todd Titon, editor, of Worlds of Music  compiled a good book to become familiar with non-European and non-Russian based music.