Council for Higher Education in Music



The following minimum musicianship skill expectations apply to music majors who have completed four semesters of music theory study in two- or four-year CHEM member institutions and who plan to transfer to another institution within the CHEM network.

By the end of the fourth semester of study, the student should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the following areas:

A.    Sight singing

1.    Sing tonal melodies with chromaticism and modulation, using treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs.
2.    Perform melodies and rhythms containing asymmetric meters, meter changes, irregular beat divisions, and other complex patterns.

B.    Dictation

1.    Melodic: Notate one- and two-part dictation with chromaticism and modulation.
2.    Harmonic Progression: Notate chromatic chord progressions with modulation, diatonic seventh chords, secondary function chords, the Neapolitan sixth, and augmented sixth chords, providing bass/soprano, Roman numerals, and figured bass.
3.    Notate rhythms containing various beat divisions and subdivisions in simple, compound, and asymmetric meters.

C.    Aural Structural Discrimination

Identify cadences, motivic development, phrases, phrase groups, periods, modulations, sequences, contrapuntal processes, and binary, ternary, rondo, and sonata-allegro forms.

D.    Keyboard Harmony Skills

1.    Play all major and minor scales (all forms), one octave, hands together with correct fingering.
2.    Play chord progressions in keyboard style--incorporating seventh chords, secondary function chords, the Neapolitan sixth, and augmented sixth chords--in several keys.
3.    Realize simple figured bass in chordal style, utilizing diatonic harmony and secondary function.
4.    Harmonize tonal melodies, utilizing diatonic harmony and secondary function.
5.    Play chord progressions, utilizing basic commercial chord symbols (e.g. Dmi7).
6.    Perform from a simple "lead sheet."


The fundamentals of music should be covered, with emphasis upon the visual recognition and proper notation of scales and modes, intervals, key signatures, chords and inversions, time signature and meter, and rhythm. This should also include terminology, vocabulary, and an introduction to musical acoustics, the transposition of instruments, and commercial chord symbols. Students should be able to recognize, analyze and construct such aspects of tonal melody writing as motives, phrase and period structures, cadences, non-harmonic tones, and other melodic devices. Students should be able to write two-part pieces, sixteenth and eighteenth century counterpoint at an introductory level, and demonstrate an understanding of four-part chorale style, figured bass realization, melody harmonization with appropriate voice leading and harmonic function. Students should also be able to recognize, analyze and construct diatonic and chromatic triads and seventh chords, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords, secondary functions, temporary tonics, modal mixtures, Neapolitan chords, altered dominants, augmented sixth chords, chromatic mediants, and modulations to closely related and remote keys. Students will be expected to demonstrate proficiency employing Roman Numerals and other analytical methods appropriate to the common practice period. The study of musical form and formal analysis will be included progressively throughout the four-semester sequence and should include basic musical concepts such as phrase structures, counterpoint, and standard musical forms. Familiarity with non-common practice period music, late 19th century complex tonal techniques, and 20th century techniques is encouraged.


Receiving institutions will accept a student's music theory/musicianship credits if the student has earned a grade of C or better for each course of a four-semester music theory sequence from any two- or four-year institution that subscribes to the above articulated theory program.