What you can do now to prepare for the Music Theory Sequence
The Music Theory Sequence at Lawrence is thorough, rigorous, and for most students fast-paced. Your conscientious preparation this summer will significantly enhance your success in this important part of the conservatory’s curriculum. Please feel free to contact Professor Bates (email@example.com) should you have any questions regarding the Music Theory Sequence or the Music Theory Placement Exam.
In order to achieve our goal of guiding you toward a deeper understanding of how music works, we expect incoming B.Mus. students to have attained a thorough and practiced proficiency in music theory fundamentals and a level of aural discrimination adequate for entrance into the required five-term sequence. To that end, all entering B.Mus. students (including transfers) are expected to enroll in the Music Theory Fundamentals E-course and begin by completing the two Preliminary Assessments in Written Skills and Aural Skills they will find there. The Music Theory Fundamentals E-course is hosted at artusimusic.com, where incoming students can use their @lawrence.edu e-mail addresses to create an account free of charge at a summer 2024 date to be determined . If you score below 85% on either of the Preliminary Assessments which begin the E-course, we strongly recommend that you work through the course over the summer to prepare you for your theory studies in the fall.
- Fluency in reading pitches in both treble and bass clefs
- Fluency in rhythmic notation, including note values, ties, rests, meter signatures
- Quick and accurate recall of the spelling and notation of:
- all major and minor scales (including the three forms of minor)
- all major and minor key signatures
- all intervals of an octave or less
- all major, minor, diminished and augmented triads
- Knowledge of inversion of intervals and triads; basic harmonic function in major and minor keys
- Ability to recognize by ear:
- intervals of an octave or less (by name and in notation) major, minor and diminished triads in root position and inversion (by name and in notation)
- Ability to sing at sight (without accompaniment):
- a brief melody written in either treble or bass clef intervals and arpeggiated triads (both by name and from notation)
- Ability to notate short melodic fragments (both pitches and rhythms)
Recommended materials for summer study
We recommend the following resources to supplement your summer study of music theory fundamentals and associated aural skills; they can complement your work with Lawrence's Music Theory Fundamentals E-course (hosted at artusimusic.com and free for incoming students registering with their @lawrence.edu e-mail address at a summer 2024 date to be determined):
- John Clough, Joyce Conley, and Claire Boge, Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter, 3rd ed. (New York: Norton, 1999). ISBN-13: 978-0-393-97369-3. An excellent programmed learning workbook for theory fundamentals.
We also encourage non-pianists to take some piano lessons during the summer, as keyboard facility will greatly enhance your study of music theory and prepare you well for Lawrence's Basic Keyboard Skills curriculum.
Music Theory & Analysis and Aural Skills Classes: There are no required textbooks for Music Theory & Analysis or Aural Skills classes.
Sight Singing: You can order the required coursepack for Sight Singing classes through the Lawrence Online Bookstore. Be sure to purchase it far enough in advance of fall term so that you have received it by the first day of classes!
- Coursepack of Anne C. Hall, Studying Rhythm, 3rd edition (Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2005). ISBN: 978-0-130-40602-6. The book is now in a 4th edition, but with the publisher's consent we have created a coursepack of the now out-of-print 3rd edition.
Music Theory Placement Exam
The Music Theory Placement Exam is required of any student who wishes to enroll in the Music Theory Sequence. This includes entering B.Mus. students (including transfers) as well as B.A. - Music students and non-music majors who seek in-depth study of these disciplines. The Placement Exam will be used to place you into one of four sections of first-year Theory & Analysis and Aural Skills courses, and into one of five sections of first-year Sight Singing courses. You must complete the exam in order to receive placement and register for any courses in the Music Theory Sequence.
The Music Theory Placement Exam will be open between July 17 and August 20. It will assess your ability to match sounds (intervals, melodic patterns, chord qualities, harmonic progressions, and rhythmic patterns) with musical notation. The exam is self-contained, in that it includes all necessary instructions. Once you begin it, you will have 40 minutes in which to complete it. In the unlikely event of technical incompatibilities, or if you are physically unable to take the online exam, please e-mail Professor Bates (firstname.lastname@example.org) in order to make other arrangements.
Advanced Placement Exam in Music Theory
As described above, the Music Theory Placement Exam determines which section of Music Theory, Aural Skills and Sight Singing you will be placed into; thus it is required of all students who wish to enroll in the core music theory curriculum. Students who wish to try to place out of one of more of those courses must also complete Lawrence's in-house Advanced Placement Exams in Music Theory.
Taking Lawrence's own in-house AP exams is required of all transfer students and is optional for incoming first-year students who have had considerable prior experience in music theory and aural skills. The two AP exams--one in written skills and one in aural skills--will each be available on the main Music Theory Placement Exam site (scroll down to the bottom of that page), during dates to be determined. The aural skills AP exam has a time limit of 60 minutes; the written skills AP exam is not timed and may take considerably longer to complete, depending upon how many questions a student attempts to answer. If you intend or are required to take the AP exams, we recommend that you do so after taking the main placement exam.
Please note that students who have taken the College Board AP-Music Theory Exam or IB-Music exams still need to take Lawrence’s own in-house AP Music Theory exams if they seek advanced placement. Although standardized AP exams may earn you college credit, you can only be considered for advanced placement in our theory curriculum by taking Lawrence's own in-house AP exams. We encourage you to read the university’s policies on advanced placement exams especially as they pertain to the awarding of college credit based on a minimum score on these exams.
A brief Sight-Singing audition is required of all transfer students, and a small number of entering first-year students will be invited to audition on the basis of their scores on the regular placement exam. Sight-singing auditions will be conducted at the end of August via Zoom. There is nothing to prepare for this 5-minute audition. See the Music Theory Placement Exam site for further information.
CHECKLIST: Summer preparation for the Music Theory Sequence
- Summer 2024, date tbd: visit artusimusic.com and use your @lawrence.edu e-mail address to register free of charge for the Music Theory Fundamentals E-course. Complete both the Written Skills and Aural Skills Preliminary Assessments to assess your current level of knowledge and experience. Expected of all entering B.Mus. students (including transfers) and of B.A. students who wish to enroll in the Music Theory Sequence.
- if you score below 85% on either of the Preliminary Assessments, work through the Music Theory Fundamentals E-course over the summer, in preparation for your theory studies in the fall
- July-August dates tbd: Take the Music Theory Placement Exam – required of all entering B.Mus. students (including transfers) and of B.A. students who wish to enroll in the Music Theory Sequence
- July-August dates tbd: Take the Advanced Placement Exam in Music Theory (optional for incoming first-year students and intended only for those who have had substantial previous training in music theory and aural skills; required of all transfer students who have studied music theory at another college or university). To download our AP exam, visit the Music Theory Placement Exam Canvas page and scroll down to the bottom of that page
- before the first day of classes: Purchase and receive the required Sight-Singing textbooks in advance so that you can bring them to class on the first day of fall term. To ensure that you receive the correct edition and format, we recommend you purchase your books from the Lawrence Online Bookstore