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Placement Tests

Placement Guidelines

All students admitted into the music program at the Cornel School of Contemporary Music at Shepherd University will be given a placement test to assess each individual’s understanding and ability in fundamental music theory, ear training, and performance skill. These tests allow our faculty to place students in the best classes for their educational success, and do not affect admission status.

The music department has placement exams in six areas of study – passing score is 70% or higher. All placement exams are to be taken at the beginning of a student’s first semester:

  • Fundamentals of Music – basic knowledge of musical language
  • Musicianship – ear training / solfeggio
  • Keyboard Skills – technique, voicings, sight-reading
  • Theory I / II – classical functional music theory
  • Jazz Harmony I / II – contemporary harmony
  • Music History – Western Music / Contemporary Music
  • Instrumental Proficiency – audition

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Fundamentals of Music

Evaluation of students’ understanding of basic music theory: rhythmic notation, intervals, triads, scales, key signatures and the circle of fifths, musical terms, and solfège.

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Musicianship (Ear Training)

The ear training evaluation consists of dictation (recognition) and solfeggi in major and minor keys using the movable DO system.

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Music Theory

Evaluation students’ knowledge of chord resolutions, figured bass, functional analysis, non-chord tones, and chromatic harmony.

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Jazz Harmony

Evaluation of students’ knowledge of diatonic 7ths, resolutions, modes, tensions and avoid notes, secondary dominants, II-V-I, modal interchange, substitute V7, and more.

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Music History

Evaluation of students’ knowledge of Western Music History – covering Gregorian chant through 20th century concert music, and Contemporary Music History – covering pop, rock and jazz music.

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Instrumental Audition

All students in the Cornel School of Contemporary Music are required to have a major instrument, regardless of the chosen concentrated major. Our program divides instrumental lessons into eight levels of skill. Performance majors must qualify at all eight levels by the time they graduate to complete their performance requirement. Composition and Contemporary Christian Music majors must qualify at four levels by graduation and Music Production majors two levels. The placement audition will position students at their qualifying level in which to begin private instrumental instruction and group performance classes.

There are four categories of students entering the music department. The placement exam requirements and results are different in each category.

1. Entering BM students with a high school diploma and no college experience:

Required to take Fundamentals of Music, and Instrumental Proficiency before first semester classes begin. Instrumental auditions allow the department to place students with the best private instructors.

A passing score on Fundamentals exam allows the entering student to move directly to Theory I class. The degree requirement for the Fundamentals of Music class is satisfied, but the credits are not transferrable. The student must still complete all 128 credits to graduate, and may add an additional elective course to fulfill the credit requirement.

2. Entering BM student with previous college credit:

Required to take Fundamentals of Music, and Instrumental Proficiency before first semester classes begin.

Musicianship, Theory I/II, and Jazz Harmony I/II exams are optional. Passing these exams allows the entering student to move directly to the next higher course in the sequence. The degree requirements for the relevant courses are satisfied, and credit units will be transferred if the student’s official transcript shows equivalent course work. If credits are not transferrable, passing the exams satisfies the degree requirements, but the student still must complete all 128 credits to graduate, and may add additional elective courses to fulfill the credit requirement.

Note: Music History credits are automatically transferrable without exam if the student’s official transcript shows equivalent course work. Instrumental Proficiency (private lesson) credits are transferrable if the student’s official transcript shows equivalent course work, but the student must pass the proficiency level required for the student’s major in jury examination to graduate.

3. Entering MM student with a Bachelor degree in music:

Entering MM students with a Bachelor in music are required to pass placement exams to satisfy the prerequisite requirements of the six majors – even if the student’s undergraduate transcript shows equivalent course work.

  • Performance: Musicianship, and Jazz Harmony I/II
  • Composition: Music Theory I / II, and Jazz Harmony I / II
  • Film Scoring: Music Theory I / II, and Jazz Harmony I / II
  • Songwriting: Musicianship, and Jazz Harmony I/II
  • Music Production: Musicianship, and Jazz Harmony I/II
  • CCM – Worship: Musicianship, and Jazz Harmony I/II

The History of Western Music prerequisite is satisfied if the student’s undergraduate transcript shows equivalent course work

Entering students who do not pass the prerequisite placement exams must take the relevant classes. Credits in prerequisite classes may be applied to the MM degree as electives (limited to the maximum number of elective credit units in each MM major).

4. Entering MM student with a Bachelor degree not in music

Entering MM students who do not have a Bachelor degree in music may have the music training to satisfy the prerequisite requirements for the Master of Music program. Students must pass the Music Theory I / II, Music History, Musicianship, and Jazz Harmony I / II placement exams to satisfy prerequisite requirements.

Entering students who do not pass the prerequisite placement exams must take the relevant classes. Credits in prerequisite classes may be applied to the MM degree as electives (limited to the maximum number of elective credit units in each MM major).

5. Placement Exams for Entering Certificate Students

All students who enter the Certificate program are required to take a placement exam in Instrumental Proficiency before the first term classes begin. Instrumental auditions allow the department to place students with the best private instructors.

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