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Proficiency Exams

MM Music History Proficiency Exams

During Orientation Week all incoming MM students take proficiency exams in Music History. Entering MM students are expected to demonstrate knowledge equivalent to that of students who have completed the BM course of study at The Boston Conservatory. The results of these proficiency exams determine the need to take either of the review courses. Students are required to complete review work within the first year of their MM program and are enrolled in the appropriate course by the Registrar’s Office.

There are no make-up exams: students who do not take a Proficiency Exam during Orientation Week will be placed in the appropriate review course.

The day before spring semester classes begin Spring Start students have the opportunity to sit, and students who failed the Music History 2 proficiency exam in September have an opportunity to resit, the exam. Students who fail a Music History Review Course may not resit the Proficiency Exam but must instead retake the failed course.

Sunday, September 1, 2013
Seully Hall

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Seully Hall


The Music History Proficiency has two sections: Music History 1) Medieval through Baroque, and Music History 2) Classical to the Present.

These two sections are marked separately. A student could, for instance, pass the Music History 1 exam but fail Music History 2. In such a case only Music History Review 2 would be required.

The exam consists of multiple choice and short answer questions, identification of score pages, themes from standard repertoire, and various images (composers, performers, venues, etc.), and a listening test that asks students to identify recorded examples from standard works and answer general questions about each.

Students who are required to take a Music History Review must pass this course before enrolling in any Music History Seminar dealing with the historical period covered by the review. In some cases a student may take a Music History Seminar and its required preparatory Music History Review course in the same semester. This arrangement is by permission only and each case is considered individually.

Recommended for Review
J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout, Claude V. Palisca
W.W. Norton & Company; 8th Edition, 2009
ISBN: 9780393931259

Studying Music History: Learning, Reasoning, and Writing About Music History and Literature
David Poultney
Prentice Hall, 1995
ISBN: 978 0131902245
Norton also has a very useful website which includes multiple choice quizzes and a listening lab HERE

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