Prepare for Success as a Music Major

Thank you for your interest in music study at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro! If you are thinking about majoring in music and pursuing the Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, then you need to focus immediately on the following areas that will help you to be successful at UNCG.

I. Music Theory

First-year students apply to UNCG with differing levels of knowledge about music. To best prepare every student entering our program, admitted students are required to complete our online Fundamentals of Music Theory Review prior to enrollment so that we may determine the appropriate theory course placement.

The Fundamentals of Music Theory Review is designed to give students all the information, tools, practice, and assessment to prepare them to enter MUS 101 Music Theory I in the fall.

The online review contains 6 Modules, 15 Lessons, and 12 quizzes.
Each Module consists of 1-4 Lessons that present all the material students will need to know to be prepared for MUS 101 Music Theory I. Many Lessons have links to other websites for additional review and practice.

There are approximately 2 Quizzes for each Module, and they are designed to assess mastery of certain material presented in the Lessons.
The Quizzes are:

  1. Pitch Identification
  2. Major Key Signature Identification
  3. Minor Key Signature Identification
  4. Identifying Correct Key Signature Notation
  5. Identifying Scale Type
  6. Applying Accidentals to Scales
  7. Identifying Intervals
  8. Identifying Correct Interval Notation
  9. Chord Identification
  10. Chord Spelling
  11. Understanding Time Signatures and Meter
  12. Identifying Correct Rhythmic Notation

Each Quiz is timed and consists of approximately 10 questions. Students have a maximum of 3 attempts to take each Quiz, and must pass each Quiz with a minimum of 80%.

Students must pass all Quizzes by August 1 at 11:59 pm.
Failure to pass any Quiz will result in enrollment in MUS 100 Music Fundamentals, and enrollment in MUS 101 Music Theory I will be delayed a year.

Depending on students’ previous experience and knowledge in music theory, this review could take from a few hours to several days. It is suggested that students start the review as soon as possible and work through no more than 2 modules each day.

NOTE: If you are transferring from another school where you have had some theory courses, you will NOT take the above examination. Instead, you will take the normal advanced placement test for theory (either during your audition or just prior to the beginning of classes) to determine which music theory course you should take during your first semester at UNCG. If you are transferring from another school where you did NOT have theory instruction, you will be required to take the examination described above.

II. Keyboard Skills

If you have limited performance skills on the piano, then we strongly urge you to find a piano teacher and begin keyboard study immediately. Piano study will contribute to your general musical knowledge in many ways, especially your functional knowledge of scales, chords, and clefs. You will need functional keyboard skills to play simple accompaniments, harmonize melodies, and improvise music in different styles during your studies at UNCG and throughout your professional career. This is a valuable skill required of most, if not all, music degree programs at the UNCG School of Music.

During your audition day, we will offer a piano skills assessment, also known as a Piano Placement Test. This test does not influence your audition results, it is more accurate to think of it is a tool to better articulate your coursework, placing you in the appropriate level of Class Piano. Auditioning students who have had considerable piano background may be able to exempt class piano by passing all levels of the assessment; this is also known as “testing out” of class piano. For more information about the Piano Proficiency Exam required for all non-keyboard major, please view the Piano Proficiency Guidelines.

The four levels of class piano are MUP 131-134. Placement below MUP 133 is considered a remedial/deficiency placement. Except for the BA music degree, credit earned in MUP 131 and/ or MUP 132 will not fulfill a specific degree requirement, but may count toward free electives.

The UNCG College of Visual and Performing Arts adopted beginning piano texts are the following:

Alfred’s Group Piano for Adults, Books I and II by E.L Lancaster and Kenon D, Renfrow. Alfred Publishing Company, Van Nuys, CA.

III. Singing Voice

The functional use of your singing voice is important to your success as a music student at UNCG and later as a music teacher in private lessons, ensemble rehearsals, and the classroom. Although students who anticipate being a voice major usually spend several years singing in a choir during their adolescent years, many instrumentalists, including pianists, fail to develop their vocal skills. During the first two years of study at UNCG, all music majors must enroll in courses designed to develop the skills of aural perception and sight singing. Prior singing experience will help you succeed in those courses. If you have not recently had experience singing, then you are urged to find a place in a school or community choir or another musical venue where you can develop skill in singing with good pitch and rhythm and become comfortable in using your singing voice.

As always, if you have questions about these items or anything else pertaining to music study at UNCG, please contact us at 336-334-5789 or by email at