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Piano Proficiency Exam Guidelines


Commonly, music majors prepare for the Piano Proficiency Exam by taking MUAP 3265 Piano Skills, which is offered during the Spring semester of the academic year. Information about MUAP 3265 is included on the web site Group Piano Studies at UALR . Both piano principals and non-pianists are strongly encouraged to enroll in Piano Skills as preparation for the Piano Proficiency Exam. Any questions about the Piano Proficiency Exam should be directed to Dr. Hakutani, Coordinator of Group Piano Studies.

Initially, all 5 portions of the examination must be taken in one examination hearing. If the student passes all 5 portions, the instructor completes a form verifying this, which is turned in to the Music Department chairperson, and exam is complete, satisfying the music major graduation requirement for Piano Proficiency. Any failed portion(s) must be repeated, and these may be repeated no sooner than the scheduled examination time the following semester.

Piano Proficiency examinations are scheduled for the last Friday of classes during the Spring and Fall semesters, and are held in Dr. Hakutani’s studio. Anyone who will be unable to take the examination at that time should contact Dr. Hakutani by the 5 th week of classes during the semester in which they plan on taking the examination, to request an alternate exam time. It is important to plan ahead.


1. Scales and Pentascales:

A. All Major Scales (2 octaves, hands together)
B. All Harmonic Minor Scales that begin on white keys (2 octaves, hands together)
C. All Major Pentascales (hands together)
D. All Minor Pentascales that begin on white keys (hands together)

Students will be required to play any scales(s), requested by the examiner, from the list above. All scales must be played in eighth notes with a minimum tempo of quarter note = 60. Standard fingering is expected. More than one incorrect note in three attempts will constitute failure in this area. Students must pass parts A, B, C, and D for successful completion of this category.

2. Chords:

A. All major and minor triads (from the keys listed above), in root position, 1 st , and 2 nd inversions. Hands together.
B. Basic I-IV 6/4 -I-V 6/5 -I or i - iv 6/4 -i-V 6/5 -i in the keys listed above. Hands together.

Chord progressions are to be played with a steady tempo at a minimum speed of quarter note = 50 (each chord played as a quarter note). Correct fingering is expected. There should be no more than one incorrect note in three attempts for each chord progression that is requested during the exam.

3. Sight Reading :

Students must play a selection, chosen by the examiner, at sight. Students may take a maximum of one minute to examine silently the score. Then they must play the piece successfully within one additional minute. A maximum of three errors (incorrect notes or rhythm) per example are allowed. Examples showing the approximate level of difficulty may be found on page 3 of this packet.

4. Harmonization:

The student will be expected to harmonize a given melody with two different styles of left hand accompaniment. The student may play the melody once before harmonizing it. No more than three mistakes will be permitted in two attempts per accompaniment style.

Initially, the student will be expected to harmonize a simple, diatonic melody using the appropriate “blocked chord” accompaniment. Then, the student will be asked to harmonize the same melody with a different accompaniment. Students may choose from waltz bass, arpeggiated bass, broken bass, or another appropriate style.

5. Repertoire:

Perform, from memory, a piano composition that has been prepared. The composition should be between a level 5-7 . See Jane Magrath’s The Pianist’s Guide to the Standard Teaching and Performance Literature (or Dr. Hakutani) for specific guidelines and suggestions on the appropriate level of repertoire.

Students will be graded Pass or Fail by the examiner on correct notes, rhythmic accuracy, appropriate style, dynamics, tempo, articulation, memory, and other appropriate aspects musicianship during the piano performance.

Sight Reading Examples

Sight Reading Examples

Sight Reading Example 2
( examples show approximate level of difficulty only)

Harmonization Example

Harmonization Example

( an example of a melody to be harmonized by the left hand)

Piano Functional Examination Requirements – Revised January 2002

Updated 7.24.2008