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Theory Prerequisite

Theory Home | Dr. Martin Kennedy Fundamentals Exam | Fundamentals Course

Incoming FreshmanTransfer Students

There is a prerequisite for incoming Freshman before entering the music theory sequence at CWU. When students have a similar level of music fundamentals knowledge, the theory courses can be very efficiently and effectively taught and will provide a more comprehensive and satisfying experience for all students. Those students whose fundamental skills are less developed are often completely overwhelmed during the first quarter of study. The prerequisite is designed to ensure student success in music theory and enable the theory courses to be a satisfying experience for all students.

All incoming freshman students must take an on-line Fundamentals placement exam. Instructions are provided in the “on-line Fundamentals Placement Exam” page. If you do not score 75% or better on this exam, then you must complete the on-line Fundamentals of Theory course with a grade of "B" or better. Instructions are provided in the “On-line Fundamentals Course”page.

To enter MUS 144 (First Year Theory 1)

  1. If a student scores 75% or better on the Placement Exam in the summer, they will be enrolled in their selected MUS 144 section
  2. If a student does not score 75% on the exam, but completes the Fundamentals course with a “B” or better by Monday of the first week of classes, they will be enrolled in their selected MUS 144 section.

Failure to do one of the above means that the student cannot enter the first year theory sequence in the fall. The student will then need to wait until winter quarter to enter the theory sequence, but must still meet one of the two requirements above.

If you are a transfer student, but have yet to take any theory courses. follow the incoming freshman instructions to the left. Otherwise, we are happy to give you credit for theory courses taken at other institutions. However, we want to be sure that your knowledge and skills are on a par with the students who have gone through our theory sequence.

If you are transferring any theory courses from another institution, you must take an in house theory diagnostic exam. (See the Transfer Student Theory Review page for more info about the exam itself)

This exam MUST be taken at one of the following times in the music building:

  • Wednesday June 25, 2014, 8:00 AM,
    Room 217
  • Tuesday July 29, 2014, 8:00 AM,
    Room 217
Contact Sara Carroll,, to reserve a seat.


Your registration for other music courses, including applied music (private lessons), will be in jeopardy if you do not take this exam. If you have questions about this, address them to Sara Carroll.

The results of this exam will help place the student in the appropriate class within the theory sequence. It will also help ensure that the student is successful and that they complete their chosen music degree program with the appropriate level of content knowledge. The theory curriculum is an integrated and comprehensive program including ear-training skills, melodic/harmonic/rhythmic dictation, solfege and extensive sight-singing skills, keyboard harmony, and extensive written content from fundamental skills through an introduction to post-tonal techniques. Content covered during each quarter can be found in the current course syllabi on the “Music Theory Courses Offered” page.

For information about this exam click here. Additional questions should be directed to: 
Sara Carroll
Advising & Recruiting Specialist