The music major engages students in musical practices (e.g. performance, improvisation, and composition) and intellectual explorations surrounding those practices (e.g. the anthropology, history, and theory of music). Depending on past musical experience, students may enter the music major from a number of different angles.

Students with little or no background in music should consider beginning in a class with no prerequisites:

  • MUSI-101, 105, 106, 111, 123, 125, 127, 226, 227, or 238.

Students with some background may be qualified to begin in classes with a pre-requisite of MUSI-111:

  • MUSI-112 and 113. Those with more substantial backgrounds may choose to begin in: MUSI-220, 221, 222, 223, 241, 265, 266, 267, and 269.

Since students’ backgrounds in music tend to vary widely, we strongly recommend consultation with a member of the music department at the music orientation meeting taking place in September [exact date to be determined] in Room 3, Arms Music Center.

Music Theory Placement Exam:

For students wishing to improve their music theory or music reading skills, we strongly encourage self-administration of the music theory placement exam. Taking this exam provides members of the department with a useful starting point in discussing appropriate courses. Copies can also be found in a folder immediately outside the department office on the top floor of the Music Center. 

Jazz Theory/Improvisation Placement Exam

For students interested in jazz theory track (Music 113/246/247), there is a separate placement exam.

Completion of both exams requires less than one hour. Completed theory exams should be returned to another designated folder outside the music office. Completed theory exams should be returned to another designated folder outside Bruce Diehl's office (Music Room 216).

Professor David Schneider will be evaluating the department theory exams and consulting with students about placement. Questions may be directed to Professor Schneider (deschneider@amherst.edu). Lecturer Bruce Diehl will be evaluating the jazz theory exams and consulting with students about placement. Questions may be directed to Bruce Diehl (bpdiehl@amherst.edu).

While results of the advanced placement college boards in music theory can be a helpful guide, the Department feels strongly about evaluating each student personally to insure a comfortable fit when starting our theory curriculum.