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. Most students enroll in MUS 100 (Fundamentals of Western Music Theory) during their first semester. You may be exempt from MUS 100 if you have AP Music Theory credit; specific requirements are listed here:
You may also be exempt from MUS 100 if you have music theory transfer credits from another college or university. Please speak to your academic advisor if you have questions.

A third and final way to gain exemption from MUS 100 is by successfully completing a Canvas ORG titled “Music Theory Fundamentals Exam F2023.” A UNCG email address is required for access to the ORG. Here is some information about the exam:

The purpose of this exam is to assess your knowledge of music fundamentals. The topics include:

  1. Simple and compound meters (writing and identifying note values, number of beats per bar, rests, tied notes).
  2. Clefs (reading and writing notes in bass and treble clefs).
  3. Scales (writing and identifying major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales).
  4. Intervals (writing, identifying, and inverting perfect, major, minor, augmented, and diminished intervals).
  5. Triads (writing and identifying major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads in root position or inverted).
  6. Seventh chords (writing and identifying major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th, half-diminished 7th, and fully diminished 7th chords in root position or inverted).

The exam contains 20 questions. Each question is worth 5 points.  A passing score is 70% (14 correct answers). There is a 20-minute time limit. The exam may be taken no more than two times.

If you pass the exam on your first try, you will be exempt from MUS 100 (Fundamentals of Western Music Theory). Instead, you will enroll in MUS 101 (Analysis of Western European Music and Related Traditions) in your first semester. You will also enroll in MUS 105 (Aural Skills I) during the same semester.
If you do not pass the exam on your first try, review the material and retake the exam.
If you do not pass the exam on your second try, enroll in MUS 100 (Fundamentals of Western Music Theory) during your first semester.

If you are learning or reviewing music theory fundamentals, here is an excellent source of information: 

If you are drilling your fundamentals skills, here are two excellent sources:

If at any time you have questions, please contact Guy Capuzzo at [email protected].

Good luck! 

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 [email protected].