Undergraduate Music Placement Exams

  • All students must take placement exams in theory, musicianship and keyboard proficiency, regardless of previous college or university credits.
  • Even if you plan to take introductory-level courses, placement exams are mandatory. These exams are diagnostic and may exempt you from some courses.
  • Placement exam results will not appear on your McGill transcripts.  The results are used for course assignments.
  • Placement exam results will be emailed to you during the first week of September. 
Program Group: Degree Program
Group 1
(exam information below)
  • Bachelor of Music (except Jazz Performance, Faculty Jazz)
  • Licentiate in Music (except Jazz Performance)
  • *Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) and other applicable degrees with a music minor or major
Group 2
(exam information below)
  • Bachelor of Music Jazz Performance and Faculty Jazz
  • Licentiate in Music Jazz Performance

Guidelines:

*Students in the B.A./B.Sc. (or any other applicable degree program) must carefully read the following guidelines before taking the placement exam(s).

  1. Verify with your Faculty Advisor that you are permitted to add a music minor or music major to your program.
  2. If yes, meet with dino.dutz [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Dino Dutz) at the Schulich School of Music to discuss whether this is the right program for you.
  3. If yes, you are required to add the minor or major to your program before registering.
  4. You must write the placement exams so we can determine your level of music proficiency before you can register for courses in the music minor or major.
  5. The Music Student Affairs Office will email you the placement exam results.

Contact the studentaffairs.music [at] mcgill.ca (Music Student Affairs Office) if you receive a program or prerequisite restriction on Minerva when trying to add the music course(s) after receiving your placement exam results.

Group 1 - Exam schedule and requirements

Group 1: PLACEMENT EXAM SCHEDULE

All examinations will take place in the Strathcona Music Building (555 Sherbrooke Street West). Arrive five minutes before the exam with your McGill ID number and a piece of photo identification

Monday, August 27, 2018

 

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Music Theory (room C-201)

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Musicianship: Written Exam (room C-201)

1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Musicianship Interview: Individual 5-Minute Appointment (Monday or Wednesday; room E-215)
Note: You must sign up for your appointment.  You may sign up as early as August 23 on the Student Affairs Bulletin Board (near Clara Lichtenstein Hall, room c-209) .

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

 

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Music History (room E-109)
Note: Any student who has passed a post-secondary level course equivalent to the History of Western Music (MUHL 186) with a grade of C or better is exempt.

12:30 p.m.  – 5:30 p.m.

Musicianship: Individual Appointment (5-minute appointment either Monday or Wednesday; appointment will take place in room E-215)

Late Exams: Students who are unable to take the exams in August must take late placement exams during the first week of class. Students will be charged a $50 late fee per exam to a maximum of $200. Please email research.music [at] mcgill.ca to provide (1) your name/contact info, (2) a list of exams you are unable to attend and (3) the reason for your absence.

I. MUSIC THEORY EXAM

PDF icon Sample Music Theory Exam | PDF icon Answer Key

The Music Theory Placement Exam consists of three parts:

A. Music Theory Fundamentals (Mandatory)

All new students should have mastered the following concepts before arriving at the Schulich School of Music:

  • Reading treble and bass clefs
  • Intervals (all qualities, identifying and constructing)
  • Key signatures (major and minor)
  • Scales (major and all forms of minor)
  • Scale degree (tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc.)
  • Triads (all qualities and inversions)

To prepare, it is recommended to visit websites such as MusicTheory.net or Teoria.com for tutorials and drills.

B. Music Theory and Analysis 1 (Optional)

This section is only for students seeking advanced placement in music theory. Content includes:

  • Seventh chords in all inversions and qualities (minor, major, dominant / major-minor, fully diminished, half diminished)
  • Resolution of dominant and diminished seventh chords
  • Writing simple harmonic progressions in four parts
  • Harmonic analysis with Roman numerals and figured bass
  • Labeling nonharmonic tones (passing, neighbour, suspension, anticipation, echappée, incomplete neighbour)
  • Labeling cadence types (PAC, IAC, HC, DC)

To prepare, you may consult any standard undergraduate music theory textbook, such as The Musicians’ Guide to Theory and Analysis (Marvin/Clendenning), The Complete Musician (Laitz) or Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Burstein/Straus).

C. Music Theory and Analysis 2 (Optional)

This section is only for students who wish to seek advanced placement in music theory. Content includes:

  • Harmonic analysis and figured-bass realization in chorale style, including advanced Roman numerals and figured bass (applied harmonies such as secondary dominants/diminished sevenths, Neapolitan-sixth chords and augmented-sixth chords)
  • Labeling non-harmonic tones and cadence types (PAC, IAC, HC, DC, plagal and Phrygian)
  • Harmonization of a chorale-style melody including a modulation (with analysis of cadences, pivot chords, Roman numerals and figured bass)

To prepare, you may consult any standard undergraduate music theory textbook, such as The Musicians’ Guide to Theory and Analysis (Marvin/Clendenning), The Complete Musician (Laitz), or Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Burstein/Straus).

II. MUSICIANSHIP: WRITTEN EXAM

The Musicianship Written Exam consists of three parts:

A. Musicianship Training 1 (Mandatory)

This section has the following components:

  • Interval identification (melodic and harmonic)
  • Triad identification (all qualities and inversions)
  • Melodic dictation (two short examples, major and minor)

Prepare using this sample exam

For additional practice, you may visit websites such as MusicTheory.net or Teoria.com

B. Musicianship Training 2 (Optional)

This section is only for students who wish to seek advanced placement. Content includes:

  • Two-part dictation (modulating to a closely-related key)
  • Seventh-chord quality identification (MM, Mm, mm, dm and dd)
  • Harmonic progressions (diatonic progressions, notate soprano and bass, and provide harmonic analysis)

To prepare, it is recommended to visit Teoria.com for tutorials and drills.

C. Musicianship Training 3 (Optional)

This section is only for students who wish to seek advanced placement. Content includes:

  • Atonal melodic dictation
  • Two-part dictation (polyphonic texture)
  • Notation of 7th chords in 4 voices (all qualities and inversions)
  • Harmonic progression (with chromaticism, notate soprano and bass, and provide harmonic analysis) 

III. MUSICIANSHIP: INDIVIDUAL APPOINTMENT

The Musicianship Individual Appointment consists of two parts:

A. Sight-Singing (Mandatory)

This section has the following components:

  • Sight-singing a simple phrase with no chromaticism
  • Sight-singing a phrase with elementary chromaticism

You may sing using a neutral syllable (“la”) or solfège syllables if you prefer.

For practice, you may use a book such as Music for Sight Singing (Ottman/Rodgers), A New Approach to Sight Singing (Berkowitz, Frontrier, Kraft), Anthology for Sight Singing (Karpinski/Kram), or Solfège des solfèges vol. 1B (Danhauser, Lavignac, Lemoine).

B. Keyboard (Mandatory*)

*Except for those doing a music minor.

For students with little or no keyboard experience:

  • Sight reading a short example in two parts
  • Transposition of a simple melody at sight
  • Chord construction at the keyboard (root position and inverted triads and 7th chords)

For B.Mus. and L.Mus. students whose main instrument is piano, organ, or keyboard; and for any student seeking advanced placement:

  • Chord resolution (dominant and diminished 7ths in 4 voices)
  • Playing progressions from chord symbols (for example, I–V6/ii–ii–V6–I) in keys with up to 4 sharps or flats, or playing a similar progression from figured bass
  • Elementary score reading in more than two staves: use of treble, bass and alto clefs (e.g., string quartet scores)

IV. MUSIC HISTORY EXAM (Optional)

This exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, including questions on listening excerpts. Students may prepare for the exam by reading Kerman’s Listen, Grout/Palisca/Burkholder’s A History of Western Music, or the equivalent and by learning to identify the style of major genres from each historical period.

Any student who has completed a post-secondary level course equivalent to the history of western music (MUHL 186), with a grade of C or better, is exempt from the music history exam. Students are expected to demonstrate that they have acquired adequate working knowledge of western music history (chronology, terms, style) from the Middle Ages to the present. Qualified students will receive exemption credits for MUHL 186.

Group 2 - Exam schedule and requirements

Group 2 PLACEMENT EXAM SCHEDULE

All examinations will take place in the Strathcona Music Building (555 Sherbrooke Street West). Arrive five minutes before the exam with your McGill ID number and a piece of photo identification.

Monday, August 27, 2018

 

9:00 a.m. –11:00 a.m.

Music Theory (room C-201)
Note: Mandatory for B.Mus. Faculty Jazz students only

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

 

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Jazz Materials (room C-201)

11:30 a.m. –12:30 p.m.

Jazz Keyboard Proficiency (room C-201)

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Jazz Ear Training (room C-201)

4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Jazz History Survey (room C-201)
Note: Students who wish to be exempted from MUJZ 187 must take the placement exam, even if they have completed a college- or university-level course in jazz history.

Late Exams: Students who are unable to take the exams in August must take late placement exams during the first week of class. Students will be charged a $50 late fee per exam to a maximum of $200. Please email research.music [at] mcgill.ca to provide (1) your name/contact info, (2) a list of exams you are unable to attend and (3) the reason for your absence.

I. JAZZ MATERIALS EXAM (Mandatory)

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 160/161.

For this placement exam, you should be able to:

  • Identify chord-scale relationships for all chord categories
  • Identify and spell given scales and chords
  • Analyze standard jazz chord progressions and suggest chord-scale relationships to be used in improvisation
  • Voice chords in root position, inversions and block style
  • Harmonize a melodic passage in close-position block style

II. JAZZ KEYBOARD PROFICIENCY EXAM (Mandatory)

The Jazz Keyboard Proficiency exam consists of two parts:

A. Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 1 Exam
This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 170. Jazz guitarists and Jazz pianists are exempt from this exam and will receive an exemption credit for MUJZ 170.

For this placement exam, you should be able to:

  • Perform basic scales with proper fingerings including all major modes in 12 keys, and the harmonic minor scales in all 12 keys
  • Play basic chord voicings (including 2-note and 4-note shell voicings) in all 12 keys
  • Comp on basic jazz standards (e.g. Joy Spring, All The Things You Are) using 2-note and 4-note shell voicings

B. Jazz Keyboard Proficiency 2 Exam
This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 171. Jazz guitarists and jazz pianists are exempt from this exam and will receive an exemption credit for MUJZ 171.

For this placement exam, you should be able to:

  • Perform all melodic minor modes, half-whole diminished scales and whole-half diminished scales in all 12 keys (half-whole and whole-half)
  • Perform rootless ii-V-I voicings in major/minor, So What voicings, upper structure triad voicings in major/minor and utilize diminished passing chords. You should also be able to implement these types of voicings on jazz standards.

III. JAZZ EAR-TRAINING EXAM (Mandatory)

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUSP 123/124.

Content includes identification of intervals, triads (all inversions and types), 7th chords, common harmonic progressions and scales. The test will also include melodic and rhythmic dictation.

IV. JAZZ HISTORY EXAM (Optional)

This test determines placement in/exemption from MUJZ 187. Any student who has completed a college or university-level course in jazz history must still take this placement exam if they would like to be exempted from the course.

This test consists of recorded examples and corresponding questions relating to identifying the instrumental or vocal performing artist, the style of jazz, or the era/time period associated with the style.