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Columbia College Chicago
Music Assessment for Incoming Students

Music Assessment for Incoming Students

All students joining Columbia College Chicago's Music Department must participate in a certain number of assessment activities in order to determine their most appropriate starting point within the music curriculum. This assessment process begins with the online Music Theory Assessment. The theory assessment is our way of evaluating the level of musical knowledge and skills you bring as an incoming student in order to place you at the appropriate level of music theory coursework. The assessment requires a code for access; email Becky Harlow, Academic Coordinator, at rharlow@colum.edu for your personalized code and access instructions.

Please complete this assessment 24 hours before attending your registration date (often at Orientation). Not completing the assessment will delay proper registration in any music courses.

If you don't have any background in music theory or don’t know how to read music, don’t worry! Work your way through as much of the assessment as best you can. The assessment will take you through a series of questions and exercises on the computer. It will ask you to identify intervals, key signatures, different kinds of scales and chords, and demonstrate your knowledge of part writing. All students should start with the Beginning Music Theory Assessment. You will have 90 minutes to complete the 150-question assessment. If you feel as though you didn’t perform at your best, you may take the exam one additional time after a study period of 48 hours has elapsed.

As soon as you submit your answers, you will see your score. If you receive a score lower than 39, no further assessment is necessary; you should plan to register in Music Prep, course 32-1100. If you achieve the score of 39 or better, you should plan to register for Theory 1 (32-1120) and Aural Skills 1 (32-1110).

If you score 48 points or better on the Beginning Assessment, you will be contacted with instructions on completing the Intermediate Music Theory Assessment. Achieving a score of 39 or better at the Intermediate level makes you eligible for placement in Theory 2 (32-2121). Scoring 48 points or better on both Beginning and Intermediate assessments will require you to meet one-on-one with an instructor on the Music Department Assessment Day (held the week before each semester begins), who will determine your specific starting point in the music theory curriculum.

Qualified students (those with formal training) will continue their assessment activities in aural skills, keyboard, and voice on Assessment Day. These assessments will place students at the appropriate starting point with the aural skills curriculum, keyboard studies (class piano or private lessons), and voice instruction (class voice or private lessons). Aural skills assessment will include simple rhythmic drill and scale singing as well as sight-reading melodies and rhythms. Keyboard assessment includes two-octave scales (two hands) with cadence chords and includes sight-reading and performance of a piece of your choice. Vocal assessment includes the performance of a piece of your choice as well as possible vocal exercises.

All guitar students should expect to play for the Coordinator of Fretboard Studies on Assessment Day. Guitar students should prepare to play scales, chord progressions, and a musical selection of their choice.