Student Advising


  • Each entering music major will be assigned an advisor by the department. Music majors should meet quarterly with their advisors.
  • Work out a tentative schedule prior to meeting with your advisor (before registering for classes).
  • Each student must enroll in a minimum of 6 units of music each quarter. Deviations from this requirement must be requested and approved by either a music faculty advisor or the department chair, and communicated to the Music Department Office.
  • Each student currently enrolled as a music major will be assigned a mailbox, located in the lobby of the Music Building, which should be checked regularly for messages.
  • The Music Department maintains a file on each student. It is important to update this file each quarter with current address, phone number, and schedule information. Address cards will be placed in each music major’s mailbox at the beginning of Fall Quarter. They need to be completed and returned to the Music Department by the second week of class.
  • It should be noted by the student that Summer Quarter at Cal Poly is not a regular quarter for the music program. Applied Music on all instruments and Performing Ensembles are not generally available during Summer Quarter. Music Majors who choose to attend Summer Quarters should use it to fulfill General Education requirements and elective courses.
  • Any student may request an exception be made to Music Department standing policies and procedures provided that clearly documented exceptional conditions are provided by the student and the student’s advocate as outlined on the “Petition for Exceptional Consideration” form

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Theory Placement

All external transfer students are required to take the Theory Placement Examination during Week of Welcome (beginning of their junior year), regardless of course work previously undertaken. There are four available levels of this test, corresponding to the material covered in Introduction to Music Theory (MU 101), Theory I (MU 103), Theory II (MU 105), and Theory III (MU 303). See the University Catalog for a complete description of each course. Passing the exam for a given level with a 75% allows the student to enroll in the course which covers material listed in the next level.  If a student fails one or both portions of the exam, s/he has one year (until the beginning of the “senior” year) to pass the exam.

Level I

    • Notation of pitch and rhythm
    • Major and Minor scales
    • Ecclesiastical Modes
    • Construction of intervals above and below a given note
    • Triads and seventh chords
    • Rudiments of four-part harmony
    • Rhythm and meter types

Level II

    • Doubling and spacing of four-part chords in inversion
    • Voice leading
    • Cadences and phrase structure
    • Harmonic progression
    • Non-chord (non-harmonic) tones
    • Melodic organization
    • Harmonization of a melody
    • Species counterpoint

Level III

    • Secondary dominants
    • Modulation to closely related keys
    • Augmented and Neapolitan Sixth chords
    • Binary and ternary forms
    • Modal mixture
    • Construction and resolution of seventh chords

Level IV

    • Modulation to foreign keys
    • Chromatic third-related harmony
    • Extended tertian harmony (9th, 11th, 13th chords)
    • Sonata and Rondo forms
    • Linear chromaticism
    • 18th-century fugue

Freshmen have two options

  1. be enrolled in Introduction to Music Theory (MU 101)]
  2. take a placement exam if they wish to enroll in Theory I (MU 103).

Students wishing additional information relative to theory placement examinations should contact Meredith Brammeier at 756-5038 or the Music Department Office (756-2406).


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Piano Proficiency Exam/Piano Placement Evaluation

All music majors must pass the Piano Proficiency Exam (PPE) as a part of the Mid-Point Examination. Passing the PPE demonstrates that the student has acquired the basic level of keyboard skills required for graduation with a degree in music. All freshman and transfer students are required to take a Piano Placement Evaluation as part of the admissions audition process or through special arrangement with the coordinator. This evaluation will determine how the student will prepare for the PPE.

There are six areas tested in the Piano Proficiency Exam

  1. Performance of a solo piano work (such as a Clementi Sonatina)
  2. Sight-reading of a piece
  3. Accompanying a soloist (such as a simple art song)
  4. Harmonization of a simple melody (lead sheet form)
  5. Transposition of a simple piece
  6. Score reading (four-part vocal or instrumental)

Students will need to take some or all of the Piano Skills sequence (MU 161, 162, 163, 261, 262, 263, or 265) to reach the necessary keyboard skill level to pass the PPE.  In exceptional circumstances, students might be able to pass the PPE through independent preparation.  Regardless of the path taken, all students will have to pass each area of the PPE through individual performance examination.

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Musicianship Courses

The information listed for each of the Cal Poly courses below is representative of the material covered in each course. Under the current catalogue, Musicianship I is required for music minors, and Musicianship I–III are required for music majors. Musicianship IV–VI are recommended electives for majors and interested minors.

    • MU 104–Musicianship I.  Introductory sightsinging; rhythmic performance and dictation in simple and compound meters; identification and performance of melodic and harmonic intervals and triads; dictation of major melodies and harmonic progressions using primary triads.
    • MU 106–Musicianship II.  Sightsinging in all forms of the minor mode; rhythmic performance and dictation in compound meters and syncopation; rhythmic dictation in 2 parts; identification of triad inversions and cadence formulas; dictation of major and minor melodies; and harmonic progressions using diatonic triads.
    • MU 208–Musicianship III.  Sightsinging in major and minor modes in 2 or more parts; melodic dictation in 2 parts; identification of root position seventh chords; dictation of major and minor melodies and harmonic progressions using diatonic triads in inversions and seventh chords.
    • MU 210–Musicianship IV.  Sightsinging with chromatic tones; rhythmic performance in irregular meters; chord progressions with triads, seventh chords and secondary dominants; seventh chord inversions; 2-part diatonic dictation; modulation to closely-related keys; binary and ternary forms.
    • MU 211–Musicianship V.  Sightsinging with non-diatonic tones; rhythmic dictation in irregular meters; chord progressions with chromatic chords.
    • MU 212–Musicianship VI.  Emphasis on previously acquired skills, plus performance and dictation of complex beat divisions; modulatory dictation in 2 parts; modulation to foreign keys; identification of elements in 18th-century counterpoint.

Freshmen have two options: enroll in Musicianship I (MU 104) or take a placement exam if they wish to enroll in Musicianship II (MU 106) or Musicianship III (MU 108).  Students wishing additional information relative to musicianship placement examinations should contact Meredith Brammeier at 756-5038 or the Music Department Office (756-2406).

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Mid-Point Evaluation

The Mid-Point Evaluation is a special examination in four areas of musical expertise: performance, musicianship, piano skills, and music theory. Students who have demonstrated satisfactory achievement in these areas by the time they have reached junior standing are prepared for advanced musical study and graduation in a timely fashion.

Students are expected to be current in their concert attendance when taking the Mid-Point Evaluation, but must take these exams regardless of their concert attendance status. If a student has a concert deficit, but performs satisfactorily on these exams, the student will not receive credit for passing the exam until the student has made up the deficit plus the additional six concerts that accrue in each successive quarter. If a student has not “caught up” in concert attendance within one year (i.e., before the day of the next June Mid-Point musicianship and theory exam administration), the previous Mid-Point results will be voided, and the student must retake AND pass the Mid-Point Evaluation (Musicianship, Piano Skills and Theory portions) a second time to satisfy this graduation requirement. Failure to do so will be grounds for dismissal from the major.

The theory portion will assess knowledge up through the level of Theory II, while the musicianship portion will test skills up through the level of Musicianship III. The test will be written and scored by the appropriate faculty in consultation with the entire faculty. Performance achievement will be demonstrated by passing from MU 150 to MU 250, and piano skills will be demonstrated by passing the Piano Proficiency Exam. The Mid-Point Evaluation is more than a secondary test of coursework completed, it is an indicator of a student’s ability to integrate musical knowledge and an indicator of future success in our degree program.

Students who enter as freshmen will take the exam two years after enrolling as music majors. The exam timetable for internal transfer students will be determined upon admission to the major. The musicianship and theory exams will be given on the last Saturday (before finals week) of Spring Quarter. The performance component will be assessed via the Spring juries, while the piano skills exam will be tested either through the successful completion of MU 263 (Piano Skills VI) or through individual appointments. The piano skills testing must be completed by the last day of class Spring Quarter.

If a student fails all or any part of the mid-point evaluation, it will be necessary to sign a contract for the next academic year which will stipulate the recommended course of action to be taken to address any deficiencies. The student will then retake the exam one year later. If this second exam is failed, the student will receive an Academic Disqualification from the music program.

External Transfer (Upper-Division) Students

All external transfer (upper-division) students take the theory/musicianship Mid-Point Evaluation during Week of Welcome their first year (the beginning of the “junior” year).  If a student fails one or both portions of the exam, s/he has one year (until the beginning of the “senior” year) to pass the examination.  If this second exam is failed, the student will receive an Academic Disqualification from the music program.

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Department Representatives/Area Coordinators

In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, faculty members also serve the department in the following areas. Please feel free to contact them regarding any questions you might have.

  • India D'Avignon
    • Department Chair
    • Piano Proficiency/Placement Coordinator
    • Student Handbook Coordinator
    • Music Minor Coordinator
    • Community Relations and Fundraising
  • David Arrivée
    • Instrumental Music Co-Coordinator
    • Symphony Coordinator
  • Meredith Brammeier
    • Music Theory/Musicianship Coordinator
    • Composition Coordinator
  • Scott Glysson
    • Vocal/Choral Music Coordinator
    • Student Recital Coordinator
    • Admissions & Scholarship Coordinator
  • Kenneth S. Habib
    • Ethnomusicology Coordinator
  • Alyson McLamore
    • Music Education Coordinator
    • Musicology Coordinator
    • Senior Project Coordinator
  • Arthur White
    • Director of Jazz Studies
  • W. Terrence Spiller
    • Piano Coordinator
  • Christopher J. Woodruff
    • Director of Band Program
      • Wind Orchestra/Wind Ensemble/Marching Band Coordinator

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