Council for Higher Education in Music


Most music degree programs and all Music Education degree programs require a basic piano skills examination before graduation. Some schools are now requiring that this be completed by the end of the second year of study. Because many students are not aware of this, CHEM has gathered a list of the most commonly agreed upon requirements. This list represents the minimum skills levels. The student should check specific requirements at various college websites for details. It is recommended that students begin piano study before college matriculation, if possible. Students should be able to play the following at a reasonable and steady tempo:

Play major and minor scales, two hands, parallel motion, two octaves, correct fingering.

Play major and minor arpeggios, two hands, parallel motion, two octaves, correct fingering.

Play major and minor cadences, using I, IV, and V chords with proper voice leading.

Play triads and seventh chords in root position and in all inversions.

Harmonize a simple melody and/or simple figured bass using I, ii, iii, IV, vi, V and V7/V chords; transpose same.

Sight read simple pieces and accompaniments utilizing both hands.

Prepare the National Anthem, playing the melody with simple chordal accompaniment, and at least two or three other patriotic or appropriate melodies, played at singable tempos; transpose same.

Prepare a piano solo piece commensurate with an intermediate sonata or sonatina, one movement, e.g. Clementi, Mozart, Haydn, or a Bach two-part invention or prelude, and an accompaniment on the level of difficulty of an Italian art song from collections such as Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias of the 17th and 18th Centuries.