Department of Music

Piano Proficiency Requirement

All undergraduate degree candidates in music must successfully complete the Piano Proficiency examination as a part of their degree requirements. Keyboard skills are an essential part of any advanced music study. Such skills allow a student to have immediate access to the content of musical scores, which, in turn, benefits studies in music theory (especially analysis, composition, ear training, and counterpoint), music teaching methods, and conducting. Keyboard skills have also proven invaluable for students preparing for courses in student teaching. Past graduates have indicated that their keyboard skills have proven to be an important part of their professional skills.

The purpose of the piano proficiency program is to ensure that all music students, regardless of musical background, attain minimal proficiency in three keyboard skills: solo performance, sight-reading, and harmonization/transposition. All parts of the piano proficiency jury examination should be completed by the end of the student's second year in the program. Otherwise progress to completing of the degree will be seriously delayed. The details of this requirement are stated in a separate departmental bulletin.  A complete description of this required in provided elsewhere.

Delay in learning keyboard skills almost certainly will delay progress towards graduation.

MUS 153: Functional Piano is a one credit course which has been designed specifically to assist music majors in learning each of the skills described above. Some students are able to complete the piano proficiency requirement without enrolling in MUS 153, while other students find it necessary to repeat the course for credit until they have acquired the needed skills. It is NOT necessary to have had prior keyboard training to learn the skills described above; many students with no prior ability have completed the requirement within two years.

The piano proficiency jury examination is normally offered twice each semester, usually during the eighth or ninth week of the semester, and also at the end of each semester during exam week.   (However, this exam is NOT given during the summer months, so plan accordingly.)   Notices for these exams are posted about two weeks prior to the exam date. It is important that students begin their preparation for this course as soon as possible, since failure to complete the requirement on time could delay the presentation of degree solo recitals or delay the scheduling of student teaching courses.

For students in degree programs requiring student teaching in music, all portions of the Piano Proficiency Examination must be completed in the semester PRIOR to that in which student teaching in music is to be done according to the following deadlines:

Student Teaching cannot be scheduled until all parts of the Piano Proficiency Requirement are completed.  This means that students desiring to student teach in the spring semester must have completed all parts of the Piano Proficiency Requirement by no later than the December of the previous fall semester.  Similiarly, students desiring to student teach in the fall semester must have completed all parts of the Piano Proficiency Requirement by no later than Mayof the previous spring semester.

For further information about the Piano Proficiency Requirement, please click the following link:

Details about the passing the different parts of the Piano Proficiency Requirement are contained in the following link:

Piano Proficiency Requirement

The Piano Proficiency document (as seen in the link, above) refers to five mandatory songs that must be performed as part of the requirement.  Links to piano arrangements for each song are shown below.  Full harmonizations are shown on the left side  (for piano prformance majors);  "lite" versions (on the right) are acceptable for use by non-piano majors.  Music may be used during the performance of theses songs.


Alaska's Flag (full version)                                          Alaska's Flag (Lite version)

America (full version)                                                    America (Lite version)

America, the Beautiful (full version)                           America, the Beautiful (Lite version)

Happy Birthday (full version)                                       Happy Birthday (Lite Version)       

The Star-Spangled Banner (full version)                  The Star-Spangled Banner (Lite version)                 


Recommended List of Easiest  Bach Chorales

Recommended List of Tunes for Harmonization/Transposition