Exam Dates: August 30 and 31
During orientation, all incoming Boston Conservatory M.M. students are required to take proficiency exams in ear training, harmony, and music history.
The exams will be offered via Zoom during the following times (noted in ET):
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.: History
6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.: Harmony and Ear Training
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.: History
1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.: Harmony and Ear Training
You will only need to register for one time slot for the History exam and one time slot for the harmony/ear training exam. Please register here for your preferred exam times.
Preparing For Your Exam
The ear training exam consists of:
- Transcription of intervals played both melodically and harmonically
- Transcription of standard chords
- Roman numeral identification of simple harmonic progressions
- Rhythmic dictation incorporating ties and syncopations
- Two-part melodic dictation
- Aural recognition of time-signatures and metric patterns
The ear training exam does not contain a sight-singing component.
Students are expected to be able to understand, imitate, and analyze standard modulatory techniques of the Common Practice Period. Therefore, the Harmony Exam consists of:
- Short exercises in writing diatonic and chromatically altered chords and progressions
- Analysis of a Common Practice excerpt incorporating chromatic harmony
- Analysis of Post Tonal musical excerpts incorporating modes, synthetic scales, and non-serial
While there are many excellent textbooks available for reviewing this material, Boston Conservatory uses the following textbook for the course and considers it an excellent reference as you prepare for the exam:
Additional books that could also be used to help prepare for the course include:
The exam consists of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as a listening test that asks students to identify recorded examples from standard works.
The exam is divided into two sections, which are graded separately:
- Music History I: Medieval era through the late 18th century
- Music History II: Beethoven era to the present day
If you do not pass one or both sections, you will be required to take a course called Music History Review for whichever section(s) (I and/or II) you did not pass. Music History Review I and Music History Review II are offered every semester.
Please note: Students who are required to take a Music History Review must pass this review course before they are able to enroll in any Music History Seminar dealing with the historical period covered by the corresponding review course.
The following texts are recommended for reviewing the material covered in the course:
The Norton & Company website also offers multiple-choice quizzes and a listening lab, which you may find helpful in preparing for your exam.
Why These Exams Are Required
Entering M.M. students are expected to demonstrate knowledge and competence in these subjects at a level that is equivalent to that of students who have completed the B.M. course of study at Boston Conservatory.
The results of these proficiency exams determine your course placement for the fall, and whether or not you will need to take any remedial or review courses. If remedial work is needed, students are required to complete this work within the first year of study.
If you have questions about the exams, please email: