View from behind the orchestra

Sophomore Barrier for Declared Music Majors

The sophomore barrier is required of all music majors at the conclusion in which they are enrolled in MUAP 2188.  There are a number of requirements to pass the sophomore barrier.  Students must pass the Music Theory and Aural Skills proficiency exam and earn credit for Music Theory and Aural Skills IV (MUSI 2312).  Successfully passing the sophomore barrier is a prerequisite for all students prior to registration for 3000 level private instruction, student teaching, and other upper-level music courses.*  

This exam will include five main sections: (1) a written theory portion covering harmonic analysis, part-writing, and form, (2) a written aural skills portion covering melodic dictation, (3) a sight singing exam covering melody and rhythm, and (4) a mini-recital (10-15 minutes) of music prepared in applied lessons on the student’s primary instrument, and (5) demonstrated progress toward passing the piano proficiency.    

All music majors will take this exam during the semester that they are enrolled in MUSI 2312, or, for transfer students, prior to registration for upper level courses.  Students must pass each portion of the exam according to minimum proficiency standards. Students will have the opportunity to retake any portion that does not meet the criteria at the end of that same semester.  Failure to pass the written or aural skills portions by the end of the semester will result in a grade of “I” for MUSI 2312.  Failure to pass the mini-recital will result in a grade of “I” for MUAP 2188. 

In order to replace a grade of “I” with the earned grade for either course, students must retake that portion of the exam prior to the start of classes the following semester.  Failure to pass the third attempt will result in a failing grade for the corresponding course, thus requiring the student to retake that course in its entirety.     

In order to maintain the same minimum level of proficiency for all music majors, incoming transfer students with four completed semesters of theory/aural skills will also take this proficiency exam.  The exam will be administered prior to the semester of anticipated enrollment and results will be used to determine placement in the theory and applied lesson curriculum or access to upper-level courses.    

Incoming transfer students who have not completed four semesters of theory/aural skills will take the theory portion of the exam (parts 1, 2, and 3). This will be used to determine appropriate placement in the theory sequence.   

The mini-recital is designed to demonstrate the student’s ability of the instrument’s fundamental skills.  The components of the mini-recital are mostly at the discretion of the applied teacher with the general expectations to be as follows: 

  • Vocalists – memorized works demonstrating at least 2 historical periods, 3 languages, and an art song or a song of contrasting style.
  • Instrumentalists – all major and minor scales with arpeggios at quarter note = 88 in quarter notes as a minimum.  Works do not need to be memorized unless directed by the applied teacher. The pieces performed should illustrate at least two contrasting styles. Transcription allowed, but not required. 

Students should see their teacher to determine the specific mini-recital requirements for their instrument.  Pieces performed on the mini-recital may be reused from any previous semester and are eligible for performance on recitals at other dates (junior recital for instance). Mini-recitals will occur during the jury day held at the end of the semester and will serve as the student’s jury on their major instrument. 

* Exceptions may be made if a necessary music course is unavailable to a student during the designated semester. 

The Sophomore Barrier is a prerequisite for all upper-level MUAP, MUSI, and MUEN courses.