New Students

Courses in the Conservatory of Music

Courses in the Conservatory of Music


The online music theory placement test is required for all students pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree. Most students submit this test during their audition. Incoming students will be placed and registered for their assigned theory courses and sections based on this test score. Most students will be notified of their placement just before they arrive on campus.

To prepare for the music theory exam, use the recommended workbooks Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter by John Clough (W.W. Norton & Company) and The Complete Musician by Steven G. Laitz (Oxford University Press).

The textbook used for many theory courses is Harmony and Voice Leading, 3rd edition, by Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter (Harcourt Brace Janovich.)

Go to the Music Theory Placement Test.


Testing and placement for aural skills courses will take place during Orientation week. Refer to the testing and placement schedule for more details.

Students will attend an aural skills orientation session followed by individual testing. Placement will be based on sight singing rhythms and melodies (Solfege is not required). Based on this test score, incoming students will be placed and registered for their assigned aural skills courses and sections. Final aural skills placements will be posted the day after testing on a window facing the stairs on third floor of the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building.


Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are interested in theory and aural skills courses will need to take music theory and aural skills placement tests as listed above. Space in these courses is limited, however; and Bachelor of Music students are given preference regarding class limit and section assignment.

Students in the Performance Diploma program are not eligible to take theory, aural skills, or music history until they have transferred to the Bachelor of Music degree program. Send e-mail to if you have questions or concerns regarding this restriction.


New Bachelor of Music students who have transfer credits in theory and aural skills are still required to take the requested placement tests prior to and during Orientation. For questions about transfer of credit, schedule an appointment with the Office of the Conservatory Associate Deans once you arrive on campus.

Note: You will have one calendar year from your entry in to Oberlin to make your transfer credit request. You must send your transcripts in a sealed envelope from your previous school or institution to the Oberlin Office of the Registrar.


Secondary Lessons: Sign up to audition on the board outside the Main Conservatory Office, Bibbins 113, during the first week of classes. Some piano placement testing may be scheduled during Orientation. For more details about secondary lessons, visit

Large Ensembles: Students may schedule auditions during Orientation and the first week of classes. Sign up to audition on the boards outside of the conservatory Central 25. Sample excerpts and more detailed information about large ensembles are available online,

Small Ensembles/Classical Chamber: Individuals or groups should complete a request form in the Main Conservatory of Music office, Bibbins 113, during the first two days of class. For more information on small ensembles/classical chamber, visit

Small Ensembles/Jazz: All Jazz Studies majors are automatically placed in the pool of students who are eligible to form the Small Ensembles. Students form their own ensembles based on criteria established by the Jazz Studies department. Contact the Jazz AA office for specific criteria. For more information on small ensembles/jazz, visit

Forms for these groups are completed during the ensemble formation meeting that is held the first Friday of the semester at 12:15 p.m. in the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse. Groups that meet the criteria are given a regular coaching time. Non-Jazz Studies majors may audition for eligibility to participate in small groups during a yearly audition that is held during the first week of the fall semester.

Before classes begin, a sign up sheet for these auditions will be posted outside the Jazz AA office in the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building, 200A. For more details, visit