Music Theory

Music Fundamentals Online

Frequently Asked Questions

The list below includes many frequently asked questions about Music Fundamentals Online, the prerequisites for T151, the online T109 class, and related matters.

About Music Fundamentals Online

Do I need any special hardware or software to work on MFO?

MFO should work properly on most computers manufactured in the last few years. You will need an Internet connection, a web browser, and a recent version of Flash Player. (You will not be able to use MFO if your version of Flash is out of date. You can check and update your version of Flash Player here.) You will need to use your computer’s audio (either speakers or headphones), so you should be in a quiet location where you will not be disruptive to others. MFO does not presently work on iPads or other devices that do not support Flash (though support for such devices is planned for a future release).

How long does the MFO pretest take?

The pretest usually takes between 20 and 60 minutes. You should plan to complete the entire pretest in one session.

If I answer all the questions correctly on the MFO pretest, does that mean that I won’t need to complete any modules at all?

Yes, it does! Very few students do this well on the pretest; most students need to complete at least a few modules.

How long does it take to complete the MFO modules?

That depends on how many modules you are required to take (based on your performance on the pretest). If you need to complete a large number of modules, many hours of work could be involved. This is a very good reason to start working on MFO as early as possible!

Do all the modules have to be completed in one sitting?

No. The pretest should be completed in one sitting. After you have completed the pretest, each time you log into MFO, you will be taken to the main course menu, and you can work on any modules that you have not yet completed. You are also free at any time to work further on modules that you have completed, for additional practice.

May I get help from a friend/parent/teacher while working on MFO?

No. You are expected to do all the work for MFO independently.

If you are a music major, you will eventually take nine music theory classes (five in written theory and four in aural skills). The material covered in MFO is essential background knowledge for every one of those classes. If someone else is helping you answer the questions in MFO, you may get into T151 and subsequent classes and find that you are not adequately prepared because you do not have a solid grasp of the fundamentals.

If you are enrolled in the online section of T109, you should be aware that the two in-person exams are weighted heavily in the calculation of your course grade. You will not be allowed to receive any assistance during those exams. To prepare yourself as well as possible for the exams, therefore, you should work through MFO on your own. 

I’m trying to complete MFO but I’m having problems. Where can I get help?

If you need help with MFO during the summer, either with the course content or with technical/software problems, send an email to mfo [at] indiana [dot] edu for assistance. If you are enrolled in T109 online in the fall or spring semester, you should contact the instructor in charge of the class.

What is the success rate among the students who attempt MFO?

In 2012–14, the first three years that MFO was available to incoming music majors at the Jacobs School of Music, 85 to 90 percent of entering music majors successfully completed MFO during the summer and were placed in T151.

Is MFO available to anyone outside Indiana University?

Institutional licenses for MFO are now available. Send an email to mfoinfo [at] indiana [dot] edu for details.

About prerequisites for T151

I'm planning to take T151 in the fall. Do I need to complete MFO before registering?

You may register for T151 during the summer while your work on MFO is in progress. If you have not completed MFO by the August deadline, you will be required to drop T151.

I am an incoming music major. I did not successfully complete MFO during the summer. Can I still take T151 in the fall?

No. In order to be sure that you will be able to take T151 a year later, you should probably take T109. If you find the material very difficult, you may find it preferable to take the traditional T109 rather than the online section, so that you can receive personal assistance in a classroom setting. Remember that the traditional T109 class is offered only during the fall semester. You do have the option to attempt MFO again in the following summer, but if you fail to complete it again, that will delay your progress another year.

I’m a non-music major, and I would like to take T151. I didn’t find out about MFO until the first day of classes in the fall semester. What can I do?

If you can complete MFO in a few days, you may be able to get into T151. See “MFO in the first week of classes” on this page.

I completed MFO in the summer, expecting to take T151 in the fall, but then decided not to take T151 after all (or I dropped T151 partway through the fall semester). Can I get credit for MFO?

You can sign up for the online section of T109 in the fall or spring semester. All the work you have completed for MFO will count toward the T109 requirements. You will need to take the two in-person exams. Also see “Getting T109 credit for completing MFO” on this page.

I took advanced-placement theory in high school. Do I still need to take MFO?

Yes. The only accepted ways to satisfy the prerequisites for T151 are those listed on this page. If your knowledge of fundamentals is solid, you should be able to demonstrate this when you take the MFO pretest. If you pass out of most or all of the modules on the pretest, you may not need to spend much time on MFO.

I have taken several advanced music theory courses. Can I test out of T151 and/or other courses?

See our information about Validation/Exemption exams.

About the online T109 class

What is the difference between the traditional and online T109 classes? Which one should I take?

The content of the two T109 classes is similar, but the style of instruction is very different. The traditional T109 class (offered only in the fall semester) meets in a classroom, with an instructor, four times per week over the course of a semester. The online class is an eight-week class in which the work is primarily done online, on your own schedule (but with required deadlines). Although there are only a few required meetings for the online class, students should expect that many hours of independent work will be required.

Many students work well independently and enjoy the freedom offered by the online class. On the other hand, some students may benefit from the regular contact with an instructor in the traditional class. You may want to consider the traditional class if you have a hard time motivating yourself to work on your own time or if you find this material very difficult. In particular, students who attempted MFO during the summer but were unable to complete it should be aware that the online T109 class involves working with the same MFO software, so those students might find the traditional class preferable. 

If I take the online T109 class and need help, will there be someone to help me?

Yes. There is an instructor in charge of the online class. You will meet the instructor and get his or her contact information at the introductory meeting (see the Schedule of Classes for the date and time of this meeting); this information will also be given in the course syllabus. The instructor may offer online office hours at specified times; additionally, you may contact the instructor any time you need help. You should be aware, however, that because of the large number of students in the online class, the instructor's time for individual meetings with any one student will be limited. If you need more extensive personal help than the instructor is able to provide, you may hire a tutor.

Is all the work for the class done online? Do I need to be online at specified times, or can I work on my own schedule, whenever I want?

For security reasons and for the determination of the course grade, students in the online T109 class are required to take two in-person exams. These exams are administered at specified times and places on the Bloomington campus. The dates and times of the exams each semester may be found in the Schedule of Classes.

Apart from the exams, your work is done online, using the Music Fundamentals Online software. This work is largely self-paced; you do not need to be online at any particular time. You must, however, complete the MFO modules by specified deadlines (listed in detail in the course syllabus).

The instructor may hold occasional online office hours at designated times. Participation in online office hours is not required; students wishing to participate will need to be online at the specified times.

Is there a textbook for the online class?

No. All the required material is presented within the Music Fundamentals Online software. A few music fundamentals textbooks are on reserve in the Music Library, where they are available to students who may find them useful for additional study or practice.

How is the grade for the online class determined?

Your grade is based on (1) completion of the MFO modules, and (2) your performance on the two in-class exams. The MFO modules themselves are not graded; they are either complete or incomplete. As long as you complete the modules by the required deadlines, you will receive all the points for those modules. 

I'm registered for a traditional section of T109 in the fall semester but I'd like to switch into the online section (or vice versa). Can I make this switch?

Switching between the traditional and online sections is allowed only during the first two weeks of the fall semester. Switching into the traditional section is subject to the availability of space, and to the approval of the instructor. You will be expected to complete all the requirements for the section into which you are moving; you will not receive any credit for any work that you did for the other class.

I'd like to take the online section of T109. Do I need to complete the MFO pretest (or do anything else) before the class starts?

If you are registered for the online section of T109, watch your email in the days before the eight-week session starts for a few instructions. You do not need to take the MFO pretest before the class starts. The pretest will be the first official work you do for the class, after the informational meeting.

I’m taking the online section of T109, but I’m worried that I will do poorly on the in-person exams because taking an exam on paper is very different from the work we’re doing online.

Practice exams, featuring questions very similar to those on the actual exams, will be made available in advance to students in the online section of T109.

Will the exams in the online section of T109 cover material from all modules of MFO, including modules that I tested out of?

Yes. For this reason, it is a good idea to spend some time working on all the modules of MFO, even if you are not required to complete some of them because of your performance on the pretest. For practice, you can always go back and do further work on any module that you have completed.

I’m interested in taking the online section of T109, but I have a schedule conflict with the informational meeting and/or the exams. What can I do?

Contact the course instructor with a description of your situation. If you do not know who the instructor is, send an email to mfo [at] indiana [dot] edu.

Are any other music theory classes besides T109 offered online?

Currently T109 is the only theory class offered online at IU.