If you are planning to study music in college, you will need strong foundations in music theory. At Campbellsville University, what knowledge/skills should you have as an entering music student?
- reading music effectively in treble clef and bass clef
- rhythm: notation, meter
- scales: major, three forms of minor, chromatic
- major and minor key signatures; the circle of fifths
- simple harmonic relationships using Roman numerals
- aural skills: notating simple rhythms and melodies, identifying scale degrees
- vocal skills: matching pitches, singing simple melodies using solfeggio
- keyboard skills: octave locations, scales, simple melodies and harmonies
For some music students, by the time they arrive in college they have had numerous opportunities to learn theory through their church music programs, high school experiences, or private lessons. But other music students have experienced very little theory. If you have not mastered all the knowledge/skills you need, there are many ways to “get caught up.”
- Take piano lessons. Ask the teacher if she will concentrate on theory rather than just on literature.
- Teach yourself using a book. There are many good titles available on the fundamentals of music theory; one that we use in our Elementary Musicianship courses is called Music First! by Gary C. White, published by McGraw Hill.
- Teach yourself using electronic resources. You can find electronic versions of many of the printed textbooks (including Music First!), free websites such as musictheory.net, and membership-fee-based sites, such as the fun music games at Theta Music Trainer (by the way, if you are planning to attend CU, we’ll provide you a membership at Theta Music Trainer free of charge – just let us know you’re interested).
- Take a course. Once you arrive on campus, you can enroll in an Elementary Musicianship course. The ElemMus I course is designed to help those students who need to start at the very beginning. The continuation course, ElemMus II, is for those students who already know something about music notation, meter signatures, major scales, and major key signatures.
All incoming music students are required to complete the Music Theory Placement Exam to determine which course they should start with. The exam is usually given at the start of each semester.