Music Theory & Ear-Training

Undergraduate Music Theory & Ear-Training Guidelines

Please read on for important information on placement, enrollment restrictions, scheduling and advising for all students taking basic Music Theory classes (Fundamentals of Music/MUSI UN1002; Music Theory I - IV/MUSI UN2318, UN2319, UN3321 & UN3322), and for students planning to enroll in Ear Training at any level (Intro - IV/MUSI UN1312, UN2314, UN2315, UN3316 & UN3317) in the fall semester.

If you are a music major, minor or concentrator, or otherwise planning to enroll in Music Theory or Ear-Training courses this year, please familiarize yourself with these policies.

Please note that in the document below, the acronym MMC stands for "Music majors, minors and concentrators,” and ET stands for “Ear-Training.” 

Music Theory Registration Guidelines

  • Registration priority for all Music Theory and Ear-Training classes will be given to MMCs.
  • Registration priority for Fundamentals of Music/UN1002 will be given to freshmen and sophomores who are registered as MMCs or who are considering becoming a MMC.
  • All MMCs are required to take Music Theory I, II, III & IV (UN2318, UN2319, UN3321 & UN3322).
  • An online diagnostic exam must be completed before the first day of class (see below). Failure to place into Music Theory I generally results in a recommendation to take Fundamentals of Music (UN1002).
  • Students who pass the Theory I diagnostic exam and are interested in passing into Music Theory II should contact the Director of Undergraduate Theory to schedule a separate diagnostic exam.

Music Theory I Online Diagnostic Exam 

Students who successfully passed Music Fundamentals (MUSI UN1002) are exempt from taking the online diagnostic exam.

All other students wishing to take Music Theory I, including those who are on the waitlist, are required to take the exam before the first day of class in the Fall semester.

The exam consists of 5 sections, each one assessing your mastery of fundamental music-theoretical knowledge: (1) identifying pitches by name in treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs; (2) writing ascending and descending major and minor scales; (3) key signatures, including relative and parallel keys; (4) intervals and interval inversions; and (5) triads in close position. Each section is timed, and you will need to devote around 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to complete the entire test. The test cannot be paused, and it may be taken only once per semester on an electronic device of your choice (smartphone, tablet, or computer; please make sure your technology is in working condition prior to starting the test).

The diagnostic exam can be found at the uTheory website. You must register using your Columbia or Barnard email.

Ear-Training (ET) Registration & Placement Guidelines

  • All students who were enrolled in previous ET classes, and who received a grade of C- or better, advance to the next level in the next semester.
  • Students new to the ET sequence, regardless of experience, must attend one of the online placement tests listed below for placement into the appropriate ET level. NEW STUDENTS wait-list for INTRO ET or ET I. A zoom link will be sent to you.
  • The Ear Training Placement Exam consists of interval identification, dictation of a rhythm pattern, dictation of a melody without rhythm, and a four-part harmonic progression.
  1. Monday, August 28th 12:10 – 1 INTRO ET (UN1312) (Online/Zoom)
  2. Tuesday, August 29th 12:10 – 1 ET I (UN2314) (Online/Zoom)
  3. Tuesday, September 5th 12:10 – 1 INTRO ET (First day of class)
  4. Wednesday, September 6th 12:10 – 1 ET I (First day of class)
  • If you expect to place into ET II, III, or IV, please do your best to attend one of the Online/Zoom Ear-Training Placement tests and contact the Director of Undergraduate Musicianship.
  • All MMC students are required to enroll in the ET sequence and complete up to ET IV.  The placement test will determine where you will start the ET sequence.
  • All MMC students and students considering a MMC in Music who have enrolled in any level of Music Theory I–IV and Fundamentals of Music are required to enroll in an ET class, unless they have completed the ET sequence (up to ET IV).
  • If you are not a Music Major/Minor/Concentrator (MMC), and expect to enroll in Ear-Training levels II, III or IV, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Musicianship as soon as possible.