Piano Department

Secondary Piano Program

Placement Tests


Undergraduate Placement Information

The placement test is administered to all incoming undergraduate music students during orientation at IU. This test is not the proficiency exam, but students who display a high level of keyboard proficiency may be passed at the discretion of the examiner.

The purpose of the test is to determine the appropriate level of piano for each incoming student. Students will be advised as to their level of keyboard skills, and placed into a piano class suited to their abilities. For information about specific piano courses, click here.

The test is conducted by Coordinators and Instructors of the Secondary Piano Department.

Students taking the test will be asked to play a couple of scales, to sightread, and to play a prepared piece if they brought one with them. You do not have to bring a prepared piece, however. The person testing you will have plenty of materials at hand.

Graduate Placement Information

The purpose of this exam is to determine your level at the keyboard and advise you of your options in preparing for the keyboard proficiency. Please look at the reverse side of your placement report to familiarize yourself with the keyboard proficiency requirements for your degree program.   Information about the Keyboard proficiency can be found in the Bulletin, on the School’s Web site (look for the Secondary Piano Program), at JS204, and in the Graduate Office. Feel free to stop by JS204 during office hours with any questions about the exam. The Secondary Piano Program is here to advise you about where your level is with respect to proficiency requirements at any time.

At placement, you are advised of what deficits exist in your keyboard playing (see placement report), and the areas that merit special attention as you prepare for the keyboard proficiency exam. Please be aware that, even if you were informed that you need to work on one or two elements, you still must complete the entire exam at scheduled examination times.

To prepare for the exam, the School recommends taking piano lessons, as MUS-P 700 <2–4 CR>. This course is taught by instructors familiar with the proficiency requirements, and supervised by faculty who administer the exam.  You also may choose to work on your own, or to find a private instructor—registration for piano lessons is not mandatory for graduate students.

Please start correcting any deficiencies immediately. Try to pass the exam as soon as the end of your first semester or year at IU. This time scale is realistic for most incoming graduate students.  Procrastinating preparation for this exam paves the way for the very real possibility that failure to complete the exam might prevent you from graduating. The Secondary Piano Program would very much like to assist you in making sure this doesn’t happen. Our goal is for people to complete the exam as soon as they possibly can.

The keyboard proficiency exam is offered on four Fridays at the end of each semester. In the Fall, this is during weeks 12, 13, 14, and 15 (but not in Thanksgiving or Finals week). In the spring, this is during weeks 13, 14, 15 and Finals Week. In the Summer, the exam is offered on the last Friday of the School of Music six-week summer session.

Signup for each exam is at JS204 the Monday prior (a signup sheet is posted before 8am each Monday). You must sign up by 5pm on that Monday, or you will not be guaranteed an exam time. A proxy may sign you up on your behalf. You would collect any 48-hour materials the following Wednesday during posted hours, and then take the exam on the given Friday at the time for which you signed.

You may repeat the exam as many times as necessary to pass, including multiple attempts within a single semester.  However, you must be ready for the entire exam. You may not plan to simply come and complete the exam one or two items at a time. Ordinarily, if the entire exam is not at passing level, you will need to retake the entire exam. Feel free to visit JS204 earlier in the semester for advice as to your readiness for the exam.