As an incoming freshman music major, you can count on one thing: you will take a Music Theory Entrance Exam. You might even have to take a Music Theory Placement Exam. The timing differs. Some schools give the exam while you are on your audition weekend, some do it after you’ve been accepted, some want you to come back another time, some wait until the first week of classes, and many are beginning to offer the exam online.
The results of the exam will either place you in college-level Music Theory I or in Remedial Music Theory. The drawback to remedial music theory is that it almost guarantees that you will be on a five-year graduation plan, rather than a four-year plan. And most scholarships are awarded for four years only! There are three ways to remedy this situation:
- Pay full tuition out of pocket for the fifth year
- Pay tuition for the summer semester to catch up on Music Theory I and re-join your classmates in the fall in Music Theory II
- Stay out of this situation altogether and do well on your Music Theory Entrance Exam!
We wholeheartedly recommend the third option. Be prepared and confident going into your theory exam. How? Start early – as early as 7th grade – with annual music theory grade level testing (coming later this year to ScholarshipAuditions.com!). Here’s the rest of our grade-by-grade advice:
- 8th grade: Supplement classroom theory lessons with online or app-based music theory lessons.
- 9th grade: Take a Music Theory class or an AP Music Theory class as a high school elective as soon as you can.
- 10th grade: begin taking college Music Theory Entrance Exams (you can find them online), identify your weak spots and begin to strengthen them. You might also look for a music theory coach for personal lessons either online or in person.
Continue your studies in 11th and 12th grade and you’ll be prepared for any Music Theory Entrance Exam. It may cost a few hundred dollars during your middle and high school career to get up to speed on your theory game, but spending that now can save you thousands – even tens of thousands – of tuition dollars in a few years!
Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO