Music Major Requirements


Music Degree Requirement Overview  

Please visit the ISU Catalogue for specfic Music Major curriculum and degree requirements.

Go here to see details about Four-year plans, outcomes and assessments.

Admission Audition

To be accepted as a music major, students are required to audition for the applied faculty in their performance area (piano, organ, woodwinds, strings, percussion, brass, or voice) and successfully demonstrate performance skills appropriate for college level instruction. Upon being accepted diagnostic examinations in music theory may also be required. 

Ensemble Requirement

  1. All full-time Bachelor of Music students in options other than music education must include among their ensembles at least two semesters of large ensemble (111, 115, 141, 151, 161, 181) and one semester of chamber ensemble (113, 161, 301, 321).
  2. All bachelor of music students must register for an ensemble course (111, 115, 141, 151, 161, 181, 113, 301, 321) each semester of full-time enrollment (except during student teaching). Students in a music education option must register for six semesters of large ensemble (111, 115, 141, 151, 161, 181) and one semester of chamber music ensemble (113, 161, 301, 321). Instrumental music education students may count one semester of 114A as a large ensemble.


Seminars and General Recitals

Music majors are required to attend weekly seminars in their performance area. In addition, all music majors are required to attend General Recitals which are regularly scheduled throughout each semester. These recitals, presented by students studying in the department, give students valuable opportunities to perform for and listen to their peers.

Concert and Recital Attendance

Recitals and concerts, an important co-curricular activity for all students, are an indispensable part of the training for a career in music. The University and the Music Department offer a rich opportunity for cultural growth through the many and varied presentations that occur on campus. Because of the importance of these events, music majors are urged to attend campus musical events, and are required to attend a specified number of events each semester (at least 12 events each semester, although some divisions may require more).

Senior Recital Performance

All Bachelor of Music students must complete a Senior Recital. Senior Recitals are scheduled through the concert coordinator in the main office with your applied music teachers approval. Senior recitals are given during the last semester of residence (the semester before student teaching for music education students). A Senior Recital is not required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in music. Additional information is available from your applied teacher and/or the concert coordinator. 
For more information: Recital Requirements

Piano Proficiency

(music majors) 
All music majors must demonstrate proficiency in functional skills at the piano. Keyboard music majors (students whose primary instrument is piano or organ) accomplish this through courses in their curricula. All other students accomplish this by satisfactorily completing Music 228. All entering non-keyboard music majors with previous piano experience meet with the class piano instructor, usually the week before classes start in the fall semester, to determine the appropriate piano class (127, 128, 227, 228) for their initial piano enrollment. Some students are deemed to have met the piano proficiency at this time. Non-keyboard music majors with no previous piano experience should enroll in Music 127, Class Piano I. Continuous enrollment in piano classes is REQUIRED until successful completion of the piano proficiency requirement. *Important:* The piano proficiency must be met, either through completion of Music 228 or demonstration of proficiency, to pass the continuation examination. Failure to do so could delay a student's graduation. All students must fulfill the piano proficiency requirement in order to pass the continuation examination and enroll in Music 319. 

Continuation Examination

*When paperwork has been completed and approved by the student's advisor, the student should see Dr. Oakes to schedule a time.

To be approved for continuation as a music major on the junior level (enrollment in Music 319: Applied Music: Majors), a student must pass a Continuation Examination.

What is the Continuation Exam?

A performance, review of academic progress, and assessment of professional goals and plans.

Identifies problems or deficiencies that might interfere with the student's continued progress and leads to suggestions for appropriate remedies.

Taken at the end of the sophomore year.

Successful completion required before enrollment in applied music on the junior level (Music 319: Applied Music: Majors).


What are the requirements for passing the Continuation Examination?

(Also see Preparation below for work which must be completed before the CE can take place.)

Demonstration of acceptable musicianship and performance techniques in:

Prepared repertoire (3 selections from contrasting periods or styles, chosen by and studied with the applied teacher)

Self-prepared piece (Consult with the teacher about the selection of this work. Teacher may select the work, give the student a choice of works, or allow the student to choose the work.)

Sight-reading (chosen by the applied teacher)

Completion of Music 335

Completion of Music 228 (or successful completion of piano proficiency examination) Waived for keyboard majors; 327 required for graduation.

For students in the music education options

A Review by the Music Education Faculty (an interview in conjunction with Music 266)

A 2.5 GPA

When should I take the Continuation Exam?

The examination should be taken during the fourth semester. The Curriculum Committee of the Department of Music may grant permission to take the exam one semester later if the student has compelling reasons to do so.

Continuation exams are usually scheduled during final exam week; however, they may be scheduled at various times throughout the semester. As a convenience to students, the department reserves specific times in the recital hall during final exam week for continuation examinations. If an alternate time is desired, the student should consult with his/her CE committee in selecting a date/time and contact the office of the Department of Music to reserve a room.

Transfer students who enter ISU with four or more semesters of applied instruction in their major must take the Continuation Examination before the end of their second semester in residence. In some cases, if the applied instructor recommends registration at the 300 level in applied music during the first semester of residence at ISU (for example, for transfer students who enter ISU with four or more semesters of applied instruction in their major from an accredited institution), the repertory performance part of the Continuation Exam may be waived upon the recommendation of the applied instructor or applied jury committee. In such cases, the transfer student will be required to complete other parts of the exam within the first three weeks of the semester in order to enroll in Music 319.

The Continuation Examination Committee (CEC) 

This examination is taken before a Continuation Examination Committee (CEC). The CEC consists of the student's advisor and jury committee, the department head, one additional music faculty member and, for those in the music education options, a representative from the music education faculty. The student's applied teacher, in consultation with the student, will determine the membership of the CEC.

Preparation for the Continuation Exam

Choose repertoire and discuss readiness to take the performance part of the Continuation Examination with your applied teacher.

If you need assistance in finding an accompanist, complete and turn in an accompanist request form, along with your music, in the main office. Accompanists are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, but requests should be made no later than 4-6 weeks before the anticipated examination date.

Collect all materials into a single PDF file.  Consult with your advisor about these materials to avoid extra work and delays in their completion which could result in the cancellation of your CE. You will provide a copy of this packet for each member of the CEC. The written materials consist of:

Record of Continuation Examination

Department of Music, Music Major Record

The latest degree audit

The official Course Check sheet and Suggested Sequence* or 4-Year Plan* for your degree/option including semesters courses were, or will be, taken and, for courses completed, grades received

A plan for the remaining semesters listing courses to be taken each semester if different from the Course Checksheet and Suggested Sequence or 4-Year Plan. This should include the credits for each course and total credits for each semester.

A one-page essay which includes: (1) a statement of your personal goals; (2) a self-assessment of your progress thus far; and (3) an assessment of what you need/want to accomplish before graduation. This essay should be an example of your best writing and will be read not only for content, but also for style and organization. The personal goals statement might include goals for future employment; the self-assessment should address your qualifications for that employment goal why you aspire to that goal, and why you think that particular goal is right for you.

Include copies of the music to be performed in the PDF so that each member of the CEC can follow a score.  For instrumentalists, the instrumental part (without accompaniment) is adequate. (Music for sight reading will be provided by the applied teacher.)

Deadlines for the Continuation Exam:

Completed paperwork must be turned in to the student's advisor no later than three weeks before the beginning of exam week. Any corrections or modifications suggested by the advisor must be completed and approved by the advisor before the student may sign up for a CE time. The deadline for signing up for a CE time is Monday, the week before final exam week. A student electing to take the CE earlier in the semester should follow a similar time table preceding the date he/she intends to take the exam. When the paperwork has been approved by the advisor, the student may sign up for a time for the examination with Dr. Oakes and contact members of the committee, or they may be contacted by the applied teacher.

After the Continuation Examination


A written report will be given to each student following his/her performance and a copy placed in the student's permanent file. In addition to indicating the success or failure of each part of the examination, this evaluation will include a candid assessment of the student's potential to achieve his/her goals. The student may also arrange to meet with members of the Continuation Examination Committee at a later date to discuss the results of his/her Continuation Examination.

Retaking portions of the CE 

The student may be allowed to retake, at a later date, any part of the examination not passed. The CEC may limit the number of additional attempts, but normally students are not permitted to register for Music 219 following a second unsuccessful attempt. A third unsuccessful attempt would result in a student's being advised to change majors. In order to enroll in Music 319 or 419: Applied Music, the student must pass all sections of the Continuation Examination as well as Music 335 and piano requirements (Music 228 or the piano proficiency examination).

Recertification of Continuation Examination 

when changing curricula after Continuation Examination
When a music student changes his/her degree (BA/BM) or option within the BM after passing the Continuation Examination, the student must update the Continuation papers with new "Record of Continuation Examination," "Department of Music Music Major Record," Essay (including an explanation of the change of goals), and a course plan for the course work remaining in the new program. The Continuation Examination Committee will review the student's papers and must approve the change before the "Change of Curriculum/Major" form is filed.

Downloadable copy of the Description


English Proficiency

In accordance with the English proficiency policy of the LAS College, all students must "earn an average grade of C- or better in the required basic composition courses (English 104, 105, or 105H)," and, in addition, the English Proficiency of all music majors must be certified by one of the following options:

  1. Satisfactory completion of an advanced writing course (e.g. English 204, 302, 305, or 314).
  2. Certification of writing skills after completion of Music 383, 384, 472, 473, 474, 475, 490D or 490E. (Passing one of these courses does not automatically satisfy the requirements for English Proficiency.) The course instructor will evaluate writing competencies as shown in examination essay questions and term papers written for these courses and will certify satisfactory work by placing a document to that effect in the student's file and signing the English Proficiency Certification line on the student's Advisement/Degree Audit sheet.


300+ Credit Requirement

Students are required to earn a minimum of 45 credits at the 300 level or above. Three credits must be taken in courses outside the major. 

Grade Point Requirement

Bachelor of Music-Music Education students must have a 2.5 GPA to be admitted to the Teacher Education program. They must maintain the 2.5 GPA to be eligible for student teaching. All other students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in their major (all music courses) to be eligible for graduation.