Placement Assessment & Information for

Every student wishing to enroll in the School of Music (SOM) must have an audition (Music Majors, Music Minors, Lessons Only, Scholarships) or orientation (Music Industry) and be accepted by faculty.

Students who have had college level theory courses, AP or IB, theory take an aural theory placement assessment in addition to the written theory assessment to determine placement. Students actively pursuing these courses during the semester they audition are encouraged to retake all placement assessments in August.


Music Theory Placements

All incoming undergraduate students (freshmen and transfers) are required to take a written music theory placement assessment. The results of this assessment are not factored in the admissions decision, but are used help us to place the student in the appropriate music theory course level. Depending on the placement level, some students may also be asked to take an Ear-training assessment.

Transfer students must also take the music theory placement assessment. Transfer students will be placed into the appropriate music theory level solely based on the results of the assessment, and regardless of prior music theory courses taken outside of the University of Memphis.

To be placed in Theory I, students must be able to identify and write:

  • All major and minor key signatures in treble and bass clef;
  • All major scales and all three forms (natural, harmonic, melodic) of the minor scales; Major, Minor, Perfect, Diminished and Augmented intervals;
  • Rhythmic notation including simple and compound meters, note and rest notation.

To prepare for theory placement, review the sample theory placement assessment. The sample includes answers and references to questions you may have.

Class Piano Placements

All undergraduate music degrees require class piano instruction.  If your primary instrument is NOT piano but you have had 1 year or more of formal piano lessons, you should do a piano placement on your audition day.  

What to Prepare:

  • Prepare a piece that best represents your level of playing
  • Prepare to sight read, transpose, and play scales



Non-music majors who wish to take Applied Lessons Only, and do NOT seek a talent-based music performance scholarship, must audition and be approved for private study by applied faculty.

You should NOT complete an application via Acceptd; rather, contact the appropriate applied faculty member (directly) to inquire about applied lessons and schedule an audition. Students who are accepted for Applied Lessons Only are offered lessons as space in the studios allows. Additionally, undergraduate students who take Applied Lessons Only are required to perform in an ensemble as selected or approved by faculty (intro level applied classes are exempt).


Non-majors who want to study piano or theory have several options. Non-majors may request a permit to register for Class Piano MUAP 1100 or Basic Theory MUTC 1001 with no audition. Theory and piano classes beyond this level require placement assessments. To continue the theory and/or piano sequence past the introductory levels, students must have passed the previous course with a "C-" or better. (moved) Contact the Music Admissions Office for assistance.


Non-music majors who wish to participate in ensembles should

  1. Contact the conductor of the ensemble for more information
  2. Participate in ensemble placement auditions the week before the semester begins.
  3. Check the School of Music homepage in early July/late November for ensemble placement information for the fall semester.