Music Theory

Musicianship Evaluation for Music Theory Applicants


The AI audition portion of the music theory major application consists of an extended evaluation of your musicianship skills, with special attention to your ability to analyze music in real time and communicate your thoughts clearly. The evaluation is in four parts, involving 1) singing, 2) aural recognition, 3) keyboard skills, and 4) analysis.

1. Singing

You will be asked to sing one or two tonal melodies of moderate difficulty. Some of these will be supplied in advance, others to be sung at sight. You may sing using any system, including solfege or numbers, or you may use a neutral syllable. The melodies should be sung at steady tempo with few errors. Applicants should also be able to explain how to help students with difficult spots. You may also be asked to sing a melody while playing a piano accompaniment.

Two melodies comparable to those used in the evaluation are shown below.

Example 1:

AI Audition Sightsinging Ex.1

Example 2:

AI Audition Sightsinging Ex.2

2. Aural Recognition

This can involve several activities:

Chords: You will be asked to identify a series of chords played on the piano, by quality and inversion (e.g., major, root position; major-minor 6/5) or by sonority.

Progressions: You will be played a tonal chord progression and asked to provide a harmonic analysis of the chords. The progression will include some chromaticism. Multiple hearings are permitted.


Error detection: You may be asked to follow along with a notated melody or score and identify errors as it is performed.

Contextual listening: You may be asked to identify musical elements in the context of listening to a recording.

3. Keyboard Skills

Prepared piece: You will be supplied a score in advance, and you should be able to play it accurately, with a steady pulse. A performance at the correct tempo is not necessarily required.

Sightread piece: You will be given a score at the evaluation and asked to play it, as steadily and accurately as possible. Again, playing up to tempo will not be required.

4. Analysis

Score-based: You will be asked to discuss the scores you just played. For the unprepared piece you will also be asked to make a few comments about possible composer, the type of piece, and a possible year of composition. Further discussion of either piece may involve key and changes of key, chord progressions, non-chord tones, rhythmic/melodic motives, phrase structure, possible large-scale form, and anything else that seems relevant to the piece in question. Consideration may be given to how you would teach the piece.

Listening-based: You may be asked to listen to a recorded piece and address similar issues as those that apply to the score-based analysis.