Your music theory level
Depending on your choice of papers and degree, you may or may not be expected to have a certain level of musical theory or ability before starting your course of study.
Courses that require some prior knowledge of music theory
Apart from the auditioned performance courses, there are two 100-level papers that require prior knowledge of music theory:
- MUSC 164 (Jazz theory 1), a compulsory paper in a degree majoring in Jazz, and
- MUSC 166 (Classical Theory and Muscianship 1), a compulsory paper in a degree majoring in Classical Performance, Composition, or some Music Studies specialisations.
MUSC 164 Jazz Theory 1
To be eligible to enrol in this paper, you must either pass a diagnostic entrance test in theory, or have completed MUSC 160 Basic Musical Techniques with the minimal passing grade of B+. The level of MUSC 160 is approximately that of Grade V Theory from Trinity Guildhall, ABRSM or AMEB.
The paper 133.109 offered extramurally by Massey University also provides a way of getting up to speed in music theory. A B+ pass in this paper qualifies as a waiver of the entrance test for MUSC 164.
Course Requirements MUSC 164 Jazz Theory 1
At the beginning of MUSC 164 it is assumed that students have a knowledge of, and quick facility with:
- All note names in treble and bass clefs.
- All major key signatures.
- The order of sharps and flats as they appear in a key signature.
- Modern chord symbols for major 7, dominant 7, minor 7, half-diminished 7, fully diminished 7.
- Modes of the major scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian).
- Other scales including the chromatic scale, whole-tone scale, half-whole diminished, whole-half diminished.
Jazz performance students will sit the NZSM Jazz theory entrance test at their audition. Other applicable students, please contact Berys Cuncannon to sit the test.
MUSC164 Study Guide
To help you prepare for the Jazz theory entrance test, you can download the following Study Guide, which covers all of the theory concepts in the test.
The following Self Assessment test is intended to give students practice material of the level of the MUSC 164 Entrance test. The answers are available here also, so that you can judge your preparedness for MUSC 164.
Download MUSC164 Self Assessment Test
MUSC 166 Classical Theory and Musicianship 1
To be eligible to enrol in this paper, you must either pass a diagnostic entrance test in theory, or have passed MUSC 160 Basic Musical Techniques with the minimal passing grade of B+. The level of MUSC 160 is approximates to Grade V Theory from Trinity/Guildhall, ABRSM or AMEB. The paper 133.109 offered extramurally by Massey University also provides a way of getting up to speed in music theory. A B+ pass in this paper qualifies as a waiver of the entrance test for MUSC 166.
Course Requirements MUSC 166
At the beginning of MUSC 166 it is assumed that students have a knowledge of, and quick facility with:
- Major and minor key signatures up to four sharps and four flats.
- Transposing tunes in these keys.
- Triads and their inversions in these keys.
- Intervals found in these keys and an ability to distinguish between major, minor, augmented and diminished versions of these intervals when written down.
- Simple and compound time signatures, use of note values and rests including beaming of tails or grouping of notes.
- The technical names for degrees of the scale (tonic, supertonic, etc.).
- Musical phrases and the recognition of perfect, imperfect, plagal and interrupted cadences in written music.
- Reading with ease the treble, alto, tenor, and bass clefs.
To be accepted into MUSC 166 Classical Theory 1 you must provide proof of:
- having passed Grade 5 theory (Trinity, ABRSM, or AMEB), OR
- having achieved NCEA Music level three (including Module 3.5) [Practical Music: AS90530], OR
- having Bursary Music, OR
- having obtained B+ or above in MUSC 160, OR
- having been enrolled previously in an approved university "Materials of Music" or "Musicianship" paper.
As soon as you have enrolled please bring your documentation to the Enrolments Office, Hunter Building, Victoria University, Kelburn Parade. Or you can post it to Enrolments Office, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Welington 6140.
Alternatively, students can sit an NZSM Entrance Test at a time suitable to the student, as long as this is before the enrolment deadline (10th January 2012). Intending performance students can sit the diagnostic theory test when they take their audition to enter the programme the year before they commence their degree.
Classical Performance students: Please contact Belinda Maclean, the Classical Performance Programme Administrator, to arrange a test: 04 463 5851 or email@example.com
Self Assessment tests
The following Self Assessment tests are intended to give students practice material of the level of the MUSC 166 Entrance test. The answers are available here also, so that you can judge your preparedness for MUSC 166
Download Self Assessment Test 1
Download Self Assessment Test 2
Download Self Assessment Test 3
Download Self Assessment Test 1 Answers
Download Self Assessment Test 2 Answers
Download Self Assessment Test 3 Answers
If you are concerned about your preparedness for MUSC 166 you might consider enrolling in MUSC 160 Basic Musical Techniques. This paper is an intensive course running for five weeks in January and February each year, intended to bring students up to the required musical level for MUSC 166, if a grade of B+ or better is achieved.
If you are unable to attend this course, School of Music staff are able to suggest other methods of preparing for the entry test.
Courses that require no prior knowledge of music theory
We welcome students who wish to take Music as a supporting subject for another major or for general interest. Many music courses may be credited to a BA degree, and there are a number of music courses for which no prior knowledge of music is required.
For more information or if you have any questions please contact us:
Phone: 04 463 5369
Facsimile: 04 463 5157
- Enrol now
- Search for people
- Contact us
- Prospective staff or faculty
- Career advisors
- Schools and educators
- Family and whanau
- International students
- Current staff
- Current students