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For Incoming Freshman

Music Theory FAQs for Incoming Freshmen


Welcome to the College of Music at UNT! Below you will find frequently asked questions for incoming freshmen who are preparing for the first day of college.

Q: As an incoming music major, what music theory concepts should I know on Day 1 of college?
A: Be fluent in:

a. Reading pitches in both treble and bass clefs,
b. Notating and singing major and minor scales (including natural, harmonic, melodic minor forms),
c. Identifying and writing key signatures (both major and minor),
d. Analyzing and spelling intervals.

Recommended (but not required) is the software/e-text MFun:

Sayrs, Elizabeth. MFun: Music Fundamentals, an eText. MacGAMUT Music Software, Inc., 2012 [$40, available as a download only, saving $3 on shipping—compatible with MAC or PC].

This is a self-guided e-text that features interactive self-tests. A motivated incoming music major who has no formal theory training could master the materials here over the course of a summer (before entering college).

Q: What if I become familiar with fundamentals but am still not completely comfortable with the topics of Theory I when I arrive? How can I succeed?
A: On Day 1 you will take a diagnostic exam (sample questions below). If you do not pass the diagnostic, you will be assigned to an instructor who will work with you for six weeks. During that time you will work with a small group of peers to become more fluent in music fundamentals, all while enrolled concurrently in Theory I. For many, this “theory bootcamp” will be essential in preparing you for the rest of your academic career.

Sample Diagnostic Questions in Theory I, Day 1:

I. Write/notate the following scales using accidentals (no key signatures). Be able to complete this in less than three minutes.

II. Write the following key signatures (complete in less than twenty seconds).

III. Analyze the following intervals (ten seconds).

Q: What if I still feel like I’m going to be too far behind?
A: We do offer a music theory course for non-music majors (MUTH 1300) where you will start from the beginning. The class is designed for non-specialists and moves a bit slower than Theory I (MUTH 1400). More importantly this course will not count toward your degree and may slow your degree progress. We encourage you to pursue the options above, but if you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact the theory coordinator.

Q: I studied music theory extensively in high school. I aced the AP Theory test. What if I’m ready for Theory 2 on Day 1?
A: We do not accept AP Music Theory exam credit to validate core theory courses; however, we do offer a credit by exam option.