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Music Fundamentals Exam

About the Music Fundamentals Exam

A Music Fundamentals Exam (previously called "Music Theory Placement Exam") is administered during the student's visit to campus for their admissions/scholarship audition, or by appointment if necessary. The test allows us to accurately place students in the appropriate class to help them achieve academic success in music.

step 1 icon  Apply for admission to the UCM Department of Music.  The application registers students for a scholarship/admission audition, automatically scheduling the student to take the Music Fundamentals Examination.

step 2 icon  Prepare for the Music Fundamentals Examination.  The UCM Department of Music has prepared a brief handout (pdf) explaining the expectations of the exam.  If you have additional questions, contact information for a Music Theory professor is indicated on the handout and below.

step 3 icon  The Music Fundamentals Examination is divided into two main sections:

  1. Basic knowledge of music
  2. Intermediate knowledge of music
  • The Basic knowledge section will be used to determine if a student will be considered for a music degree (see Music Admissions page). 
  • Students successfully completing the basic knowledge section and scoring average or below on the Intermediate knowledge section, will be required to enroll in Music Fundamentals*.
  • Students scoring above average on the Intermediate knowledge section will we advised to enroll in Music Theory I and Aural Training I.

*The Fundamentals of Music course, however, does not count as a theory course. Therefore, it is to your advantage to score above average on the Music Fundamentals Examination. Doing so will allow you to enroll in another fall class that will count toward degree credit.

During your senior year in school, or before, we encourage you to begin preparing for the Music Fundamentals Examination. This downloadable brief handout and the information below, are designed to assist you.

How can you prepare for the test? Consider these questions:

• Can I identify note names in both the treble and bass clefs?

• Do I recognize the following musical signs and know what they mean?

• Do I know what the numbers in a time signature (meter signature) stand for?

• Do I understand how note values are related? For example, a half note is equivalent to how many quarter notes? There are how many sixteenth notes in a dotted eighth note?

• Do I understand how beats are related to note values and to measures?

• Do I know the order of sharps and flats in key signatures?

• Can I identify and write major and minor key signatures?

• Do I understand what an interval is? Can I write intervals above or below a given note?

• Can I write major and minor scales in both clefs without using a key signature?

• Do I understand what a triad is? Do I know what triadic quality means? Can I spell triads, major and minor, diminished and augmented, above a given root?


  • Clough, John & Conley, Joyce. Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm and Meter, (Norton, Third Edition, 1999)

  • Duckworth, William. A Creative Approach to Music Fundamentals (Thomson-Schirmer, Ninth Edition, 2007)

  • Harder, Paul O. Basic Materials in Music Theory: A Programmed Course (Prentice-Hall, 2005)

  • Miller, Michael. Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory (Alpha, 2005)

For more information, please contact:
Dr. John Check
Coordinator of Music Theory
Associate Professor of Music
(660) 543-4587

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