Piano Proficiency

The piano proficiency examination is given to all music majors (including piano majors). Organ majors are exempt providing they achieve a passing grade in Service Playing (MUSC 342A). The piano proficiency exam must be passed before the student is allowed to graduate. Recognizing that all fine musicians are not going to be accomplished performance pianists, the purpose of the proficiency is to insure that each student has the skills to use the piano as a functional tool. Since music educators are called upon to work with choirs, instrumentalists, accompanists, etc., each must gain proficiency in basic sight reading (e.g. four-part hymn), clef reading, simple harmonization, and transposition at the keyboard.

The goal of the piano faculty is to enrich and foster an understanding of piano skills/techniques so each musician will be competent to use the keyboard as a supplement to the major instrument or voice.

It is recommended that the student take Piano Secondary (MUSC 114) to prepare for the exam and that the examination should be taken at the end of the sophomore year and no later than the junior year. Students may consult individually with a member of the keyboard faculty for an assessment of their current skill level. Upon first taking of the proficiency, students must take all aspects of the exam. If a student does not pass the repertoire component, new repertoire is required on a subsequent exam. The piano proficiency exam is administered by the keyboard faculty at the end of each semester and includes the following:

1. One or two memorized pieces at the student's own level of advancement thereby

  • demonstrating facility and musical understanding of the keyboard. Piano majors may use jury
  • repertoire to satisfy this component of the proficiency. Minimum repertoire requirements for
  • Bach, Anna Magdalena Notebook; easier pieces of Haydn and Mozart; easier pieces of
  • Schumann, Burgmüller; easier pieces of Kabalevsky, Bartok.

2. Sight reading – four-part hymn (minimum tempo, eighth note = 60 or quarter note = 30).

3. Playing a simple melody in alto or tenor clef.

4. Harmonization of a simple melody with I, IV, or V7 chords.

5. Transposition of a simple melody and harmony up or down a whole step from the original key.