UNI School of Music

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Undergraduate Majors

The Music major under the Bachelor of Arts degree is a liberal arts program for the student interested in combining the discipline of music training with the breadth offered by a liberal arts curriculum.

The Composition-Theory and Performance majors are professional degrees designed to prepare the student for

  1. a career as a composer or an artist-performer, or
  2. entrance to graduate schools where further excellence in composition or in a performance area might be pursued.

The Music Education major prepares the student for a teaching career and provides licensure in music for grades K-6 and 7-12.

General Requirements for Undergraduate Majors

Music majors on all degree programs must choose an area of applied music (540:xxx) for specialization and must meet the proficiency standards of the School of Music. The total required applied hours indicated for each major must be completed on one of the specialization instruments or voice on which the student auditioned. Dividing the required applied hours among various instruments, or voice and instrument(s), will not satisfy the applied music portion of any of the degree programs.


Admission to the School of Music requires successful completion of an audition in the main performance area.

Music Theory, Aural Training and Sight Singing

Music Theory
We are excited that you have chosen the University of Northern Iowa to further your studies in music! We are committed to fostering your success in our program. Music theory is a core requirement for any music major or minor, therefore to begin that road to success it is important that you be fluent in the basic fundamentals of music prior to taking these courses. Therefore, UNI requires all incoming music students to take a Music Theory Placement Exam to determine the theory courses in which you will need to enroll, according to your assessed skill level.

Click here for suggested knowledge base for Theory I courses.

The link below will allow you to download a PDF of a sample of this diagnostic. We encourage you to complete this test to help you determine if your theory skills may need sharpening before coming to UNI (*see below for suggested resources).

Completing a Guided Independent Study Course called Introduction to Music Theory is recommended in order to master the skills necessary to pass the theory placement exam given to incoming freshman, and to be successful in level 1 theory courses at UNI.  Students who pass the GIS course before starting theory coursework as students at UNI will not have to take the placement exam, and will automatically be eligible for enrollment into Theory I, Aural Training I, and Sight Singing I.   For more information visit this website: https://continuinged.uni.edu/distance/gis/courses/mus-theo-1100  Contact Dr. Peyton with any questions: heather.peyton@uni.edu      

Click here for a sample of the Music Theory Placement Exam.

Click here for the Answer Key to the Sample Exam.

All incoming music students will take the Placement Exam online anytime between August 3-9.  Instructions to access the exam will be sent out the week prior. 
Please note: For the students who do not pass this exam, it will be strongly recommended that they enroll in the Introduction to Music Theory course MUS THEO 1100 (on-campus, face-to-face course) or the Guided Independent Study course referenced above, also called Introduction to Music Theory (online version of the course), to better prepare them for entering the Theory I course at a later time in their studies. 

Aural Training and Sight-Singing

We use the following systems for singing pitches and counting rhythmic syllables. Please familiarize yourself with these systems before coming to UNI to aid in your success in learning these skills.

Numbers for sight-reading melodies:
The numbers represent the function (scale degree) of a pitch in the key. These syllables are sung on the pitch of the melody to which it corresponds, in the rhythm in which it is written, combined with conducting as a means of improving melodic sight-reading skills.  Click on the link below to download more information about how the number system is utilized at UNI.

Click here for more information about how number syllables are utilized at UNI.

Rhythmic Syllables
A vocabulary of syllables corresponding to specific rhythmic durations is learned and combined with conducting as a means of improving rhythmic-reading abilities. Click on the link below to download more information about the rhythmic syllables utilized at UNI.

Click here for a sample of the rhythmic syllables utilized at UNI.

*The following resources may also be helpful in preparing for Theory I.

  1. Guided Independent Study Course: Introduction to Music Theory - https://continuinged.uni.edu/distance/gis/courses/mus-theo-1100
  2. Websites: www.musictheory.net or www.teoria.com
  3. Suggested Apps and other Resources for practice
  4. MFun: Music Fundamentals, software by Elizabeth Sayrs - an interactive eText covering the basic music fundamentals with associated computerized drills. This resource is highly recommended, especially for students with very little or no previous training in music theory. To order, go to: https://www.macgamut.com/order
  5. Basic Materials in Music Theory, A Programmed Course, 13th ed.,Steinke and Harder, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, © 2019. 

Computer Resources

A computer lab with 23 iMac workstations and keyboards is available to all students in the Russell Hall music building.

We have many software titles housed on the CHAS (College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences) server. Among these are the industry standard notation programs, Finale and Sibelius.

If you have any further questions concerning Music Theory at UNI, please contact Dr. Heather Peyton (heather.peyton@uni.edu).

Piano Proficiency

Required of all majors. All freshmen will enroll in group piano class or applied piano continuously (semester by semester) until piano proficiency has been passed. For Music Education majors, requirements must be completed prior to student teaching.

Piano Proficiency Requirements - Level 1

Piano Proficiency Requirements - Level 2

Piano Proficiency Requirements - Level 3

Vocal and Instrumental Competency

Required of all Music Education Majors.

Vocal/choral students (Specialization A) will complete one semester of Introduction to Instrumental Techniques (570:015); instrumental students (Specialization B) will attend special sections of Instrumental Techniques (570:010) taught by vocal/choral faculty. Keyboard majors enrolling for Specialization A must also satisfy vocal proficiency as determined by the voice faculty.

Foreign Language

Bachelor of Music Performance voice majors are required to complete one semester (5 credits-UNI) at the college/university level in each of two of the following foreign languages, listed in order of preference: Italian, German, French. Ten (10) semester hours of credit in a foreign language are strongly recommended for students whose applied concentration is voice (Music Education Major) and for all non-voice majors on the Bachelor of Music Performance program.

Large Ensembles

In addition to applied music, all music majors must participate in at least one of the designated large ensembles for a minimum of 8 semesters (6 semesters for students in the music education program). Participation in large ensembles will be continuous from the first semester of residence until completion of the requirement. Participation in the following ensembles [MUS ENS 1120/3120/5120, MUS ENS 1121/3121/5121] does not satisfy the large ensemble requirement. Auditions are required for all ensembles in the School of Music, and students will be assigned to ensembles according to audition results.

  • Wind and percussion students will be assigned to an appropriate instrumental ensemble. All wind and percussion students who are pursuing the degree of Bachelor of Music in Music Education are required to participate in marching band for a minimum of two semesters. (It is strongly recommended that this requirement be fulfilled during the freshman and sophomore years.) 
  • B.A. Music: Jazz Studies majors will be assigned to the appropriate large jazz ensemble (sections 02, 03, or 04).
  • In the fall semester, participation in either Jazz Band I oir II may satisfy the large ensemble requirement for students in select degree programs or those who have completed their respective marching band requirements.  All students must meet audition requirements for the two above ensembles.
  • String players will participate in the orchestra.
  • The initial choral ensemble for all freshmen voice students will be either UNI Singers or Women's Chorus. Freshmen are limited to participation in only one vocal large ensemble. Students performing targeted roles in UNI Opera main stage productions are exempt from ensemble participation for four (4) weeks preceding the final performance of the production.
  • Composition and Keyboard majors will audition for either an instrumental or a choral large ensemble. Keyboard majors in the music education program shall participate in an ensemble appropriate to their specialization.