Piano Proficiency Exam

During the course of their graduate studies, students will be required to pass all five components of the Keyboard Proficiency Exam. The exam is offered twice each semester—at the beginning and at the end.

Each time the exam is offered, students are required to take at least one part of the exam that they have not passed.

There is NO penalty for the number of times that you fail a part; however, you must pass all the parts BEFORE taking the General Exam.


 Exam Components

  1. Play all four parts of a Bach chorale in keyboard style.

  2. Realize (at sight) a short Baroque figured-bass progression. The bass line, soprano line, and figures will be given. You are expected to realize it in keyboard style— three notes in the RH and a single note (the bass line) in the LH.

  3. Sight-read from a slow movement of a classical orchestral piece. See second movements by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

  4. Sight-read a specific part (e.g., French horns, wind section, etc.) from a complicated non-tonal orchestral score. Examples of difficulty: Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre or Bartók Music for Strings, Piano and Celeste.

  5. You will be asked to play in any key (major or minor) some typical progressions that are taught at the undergraduate level. Expect each to lead to a perfect or imperfect authentic cadence (our choice). The progression should be at least six (6) chords long and should illustrate (upon request) the following:
  • The cadential 6/4
  • The Neapolitan 6th
  • The augmented 6th chords (Italian, German, and French)
  • A sequence based on descending 5ths
  • A modulation to closely-related keys (major or minor): V, IV, III, VI
  • A modulation to distant keys (major or minor): from GM to EbM; from Dm to BM; etc.