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.

To help prepare for college-level theory, the faculty recommends (but does not require) these two informative and free websites.  They include all the fundamentals necessary to hit the ground running in Theory 1.

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: Try testing yourself with these fundamental skills below.  They are all taught in Theory 1, but the pace can be quick and having some fluency with scales, key signatures, and intervals will be of great value as you begin.

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.