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, 243, 244, 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 at 6pm on Sunday, September 2 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. There is a separate placement exam for students interested in jazz theory (MUSI-113, 243, 246, 247). 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.

Completion of theory placement exams requires less than one hour. Professor Amy Coddington will evaluate music theory exams and consult with students about placement. Exams may be submitted at the Music Department office or at the folder in front of Professor Coddington's office (Arms 6). Questions may be directed to Professor Coddington (acoddington@amherst.edu). Visiting Lecturer Carl Clements (cclements@amherst.edu) will evaluate jazz theory exams and consult with students about placement. Jazz theory exams may be submitted at the Music Department office or at the folder in front of Mr. Clements' office (Arms 216).