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First Year Student Checklist

Welcome to the JMU School of Music! Below is a checklist to help you plan your first semester as a music major. 

Step 1: Take the Theory Placement Test

  • You should have received an email from John Peterson about this. If you didn't, please email

Step 2: Become familiar with the schedule planner

  • The schedule planner in MyMadison (here's a tutorial) will help you add selections to your schedule.

Step 3: Determine Cluster 1 Gen Eds that don't conflict with ensembles

  • Unless you are certain you have AP or dual enrollment/transfer credit (DE/T credit), plan to take WRTC 103 plus either a Human Communication (HC) or a Critical Thinking (CT) class as written under "cluster one" in the general education planner
    • You cannot take both a Human Communication and a Critical Thinking class during the same semester. You must take WRTC 103 plus either HC or CT.
    • If you have AP or DE/T credit for WRTC 103, take either a HC or CT class plus any other gen ed from another cluster.
    • If you have AP or DE/T credit for a HC or CT class, take WRTC 103 plus any other gen ed from another cluster. 
  • Use the schedule planner to add your selections to your schedule.
  • As you choose a section of a class, though, try to avoid the times of ensembles in which you might be likely to participate (considering scheduling these as "breaks" in the schedule planner. That will block out those times for you):
    • Voice (soprano/alto)
      • MUAP 236 (UCSA): MW 4:10-5:25
      • *MUAP 235 (TCC): T/Th 3:55-5:10
    • Voice (tenor/bass)
      • MUAP 234 (UCTB): MW 4:10-5:25
    • Strings (NOTE: placement in ensembles will be determined by audition the first week of classes)
      • MUAP 344 (Chamber Orchestra): MWF 11:30-12:20
      • *MUAP 345 (Symphony Orchestra): MW 3:00-3:50 AND T/Th 2:20-3:35
    • Guitar 
      • Time TBA, so don't worry about planning for this
    • Piano
      • *MUAP 235 or 236 (choir): MW 4:10-5:25
      • MUAP 357 (only if you have been contacted about taking this): MWF 12:40-1:30
    • Winds and Percussion (NOTE: placement in ensembles will be determined by audition the first week of classes)
      • MUAP 238 (Concert Band): T/Th 2:20-3:35
      • *MUAP 239 (Symphonic Band): T/Th 12:45-2:00
      • MUAP 344 (Chamber Orchestra): MWF 11:30-12:20
      • *MUAP 345 (Symphony Orchestra): MW 3:00-3:50 AND T/Th 2:20-3:35
      • *MUAP 346 (Wind Symphony): MWF 4:10-5:25
      • **MUAP 347 (Jazz Ensemble): M 5:20-6:10 AND T/Th 3:55-5:10
      • **MUAP 348 (Jazz Band): T/Th 3:55-5:10
      • **MUAP 352 (Brass Band): MW 12:40-1:30 AND F 12:40-2:35
      • *MUAP 354 (Percussion Ensemble): MWF 12:40-1:30

*denotes required audition for entry into the ensemble

** these ensembles require a separate audition from the required semester ensemble audition

Step 4: Add the following core music classes:

  • MUS 195 (Recital attendance)
  • MUS 143 (Aural skills) unless you earned an aural subscore of 5 on the AP test
  • MUS 100 (Keyboard skills)
    • Pianists: do not add this. You will take MUS 303A in Fall 2023
    • Others: if you have significant piano skills already, please contact your first-year advisor
  • MUS 141 (Foundations) or MUS 241 (Harmony) depending on your music theory placement
  • ARTS 100 (Required for ALL Residents of Wayland Hall)

Step 5: Add the following required classes depending on your concentration/instrument 

  • Below are optional courses for the first semester. If these courses are not available and/or you do not meet the requirements, you will take these classes in a future semester.
    • Music Education: MUS 150 (Intro to Music Tech), MUAP 237-0003 (Marching Band - winds, brass, & percussion majors ONLY need to take this)
    • Voice & Music Theatre: MUS 120 (Diction for Singers)
    • Music Industry: MUI 221 (Survey of Music Industry)
    • Percussionists: MUAP 354 (Percussion Ensemble)
    • Piano: MUAP 357 (Collaborative Piano - if you have been contacted about enrolling)

Step 6: Add your lessons and (maybe) ensemble

  • Note: for this initial appointment window, you can only enroll in up to 17 credits. You may enroll up to 19 credits beginning August 1st. If that means you can't add lessons or your ensemble right now, that's no problem because you are guaranteed a spot in your studio and your ensemble will be assigned to you following auditions, so you don't have to worry about these filling up or not getting a spot, and you don't have to worry about not getting your choice because ensembles are by audition.
  • Lessons
    • Add MUAP 300 for 2 credit hours and enroll in the section with your instructor's name. If you do not know your studio assignment yet, please contact your first-year advisor. 
    • Pianists: unless you have heard from your teacher, for now please enroll yourself in Dr. Lori Piitz's section. You will be assigned a studio later.
  • Ensembles
    • REMINDER for Winds, Brass, & Percussionists: the placement in ensembles, with the exception of marching band, will be determined during the audition process in the first week of the fall semester. You will register for ensembles AFTER those placements have been made. Ensemble auditions are required every semester. 
    • Guitar, Piano, Strings, & Vocalists: enroll in the following default ensembles, which may change after ensemble auditions in the Fall:
      • Guitar
        • MUAP 353 (Guitar Ensemble)
      • Piano
        • Choir, depending on your voice type:
          • Sopranos/Altos: MUAP 236
          • Tenors/Basses: MUAP 234
        • Only if you have been contacted, add MUAP 357 instead of choir
      • Strings
        • MUAP 344 (Chamber Orchestra)
      • Voice
        • Sopranos/Altos: MUAP 236
        • Tenors/Basses: MUAP 234

Step 7: Choose a schedule you like and send it to your cart

Step 8: When your enrollment appointment opens, enroll in the classes in your shopping cart.

  • Note that adding classes to your shopping cart doesn't automatically enroll you. You must still enroll yourself in the classes in your cart by "importing from your cart" (see the end of the tutorial above).
  • You should end up with 14-17 credits on your schedule. 
  • Please register as close as possible to when your registration window opens. Classes fill extremely quickly (especially general education), and if you wait to register, even a day or two after your window opens, your desired classes may be full.
Class Piano Placement Info

Students should enroll in MUS 100 (Keyboard Skills 1) by default. Those who have significant experience may try to place into MUS 202 (Keyboard Skills 3) at their Summer Orientation session by notifying their first-year advisor that they wish to take a placement test during Springboard. To place into MUS 202, students will be able to play the following on the piano: 

  • Scales: all white key major and minor sclaes, 2 octaves, hands together, demonstrating correct fingering. All black key major scales, 2 octaves, hands separate, demonstrating correct fingering.
  • Arpeggios: all major and minor triad arpeggios, 2 octaves, hands separate, demonstrating correct fingering.
  • Chord Progressions: I-IV6/4-I-V6/5-I, i-iv6/4-i-V6/5, I-vi6/4-IV6/4-ii-V6/5-I, I-iii6/4-IV6/4-I.
  • Harmonization: be prepared to harmonize a melody in 4/4 or 6/8 meter using all the chord progressions above (melody played by the right hand, chord progression played in the left hand).
  • Transposition: any harmonization transposed to another key. 
  • Performances pieces: perform two-hand pieces at the placement test that emphasize position changes in both hands on white and black keys. Pieces will have varied tempo and meter markings, and must be played with musicality regarding dynamics, phrasing, & style.
  • Technical exercises: staccato and legato technique; rhythms of quarter, eighth, sixteenth, triplet, and involving dots; pedal technique correctly demonstrated.

 To see the complete requirements of all levels of Class Piano, please click here.

For any questions related to Class Piano, please contact Scott Zane Smith at

Music Theory Info

The undergraduate core music theory curriculum at JMU is unique because students choose from a menu of courses depending on their interests, concentration, and career aspirations instead of taking a sequence of courses like at many other institutions. Students entering the School of Music will need to complete a music theory diagnostic test before enrolling in first semester classes. Please check here for more questions related to the music theory diagnostic test. 

If you have any more questions related to music theory, please contact Dr. John Peterson at


First Year Student Frequently Asked Questions

University-Wide Questions

Orientation will start mailing One Books mid-March to all first-year students with a paid tuition deposit. As deposits are received and posted to students' accounts, One Books will continue to be mailed on a rolling basis. If you do not receive a One Book by May 15, please contact our office at or 540-568-1787. Please allow three weeks for delivery time after you have paid your tuition deposit.

Yes. Summer Orientation is major-specific; therefore, date availability is based on your declared major submitted through the Orientation Reservation & Declaring a Major step. Once your reservation is complete, a confirmation email is sent to your JMU email account. It is important to attend Summer Orientation the date you reserved so we can provide you programming and advising for your major.

Students are expected to attend their Summer Orientation. It is your opportunity to meet with your advisor, ask questions and finalize your fall class enrollment. Orientation is full of opportunities for you and your family and guests to discover everything JMU offers. If you are unable to attend, please select Unable to Attend in the Orientation Reservation & Declaring a Major step.

Even if you are not able to attend Summer Orientation you should still go to the One Book website and complete all the steps by the stated deadlines. This information is crucial for enrollment at JMU.

Students who do not attend Summer Orientation may not have another opportunity during the summer to meet with their academic advisor or finalize their fall class enrollment. No changes may be made to class schedules until Weeks of Welcome.

You will receive an email from your advisor one week prior to scheduled enrollment appointments. The advisor will give students contact information so he or she can be of service during class enrollment. Students will then meet with their advisor at Summer Orientation to confirm class schedules. An advisor may be reassigned without notice to accommodate change of major requests. Students may confirm their current advisor in the Student Center of MyMadison.

No. Prior to attending Summer Orientation, you will enroll in your classes based on your printed 1st Semester Enrollment Worksheet. Refer to the One Book steps for further instructions and deadlines. It is important that you attend Summer Orientation to meet with your advisor for a group advising session and to make any necessary changes to your fall class schedule.

The One Book is full of information you need to know about Residence Life including completing your Housing Contract, Learning Communities, descriptions of each residential area on campus, shopping tips, and necessities for residential living.

You are not permitted to have a car on campus.

You will receive information from the Marching Band office regarding move-in times.

You will select an on-campus meal plan when you sign their housing contract. Please follow instructions on the View or Change Your Meal Plan step if you need to make changes. Commuter students may purchase a meal plan each semester and do not have the ability to change their meal plan choice through MyMadison.

School of Music Questions

Yes, every music major, with the exception of guitarists, must audition at the beginning of each semester for an ensemble placement. Audition excerpts will be posted before the beginning of each semester on our Student Resources page for Instrumental, Jazz, & Vocal ensembles. For a comprehensive look at our ensembles in the School of Music, please click here.

In general, you can take an educated guess on where you think you may be placed and try to work around that schedule. However, you must be ready to change your schedule based on your ensemble placement(s). Once audition placements are posted, take a look at what General Education clusters you want to fulfill or classes you want to take, and from there you can search MyMadison for open classes that meet the time slots you have available in your schedule. There are deadlines for enrolling in classes, so make sure you adjust your schedule ASAP.

You can search e-campus by cluster. See how to do that here

See here for a list of ensemble days and times.  

Below is a list of ensembles that you can join or may be placed in. This list is not fully inclusive, depending on the semester class schedule:


MUAP 239 Concert Band - T/TH 2:00 - 3:15PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 239 Symphonic Band - T/TH 12:30 - 1:45PM - 1 credit hour

MUAP 237 Marching Band - T/W/TH/F 6:00 - 7:30PM - 2 credit hours

MUAP 344 Chamber Orchestra - M/W/F 11:15AM - 12:05PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 345 Symph Orchestra - M 2:30-3:20PM & T/TH 2:00 - 3:15PM - 2 credit hours

*MUAP 346 - Wind Symphony - MWF 3:35-4:50PM - 2 credit hours

MUAP 350 - String Ensemble - M/W/F 12:20 - 1:10PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 347 - Jazz Ensemble - M 5:00 - 5:50PM & T/TH 3:30 - 4:45PM - 2 credit hours

*MUAP 348 Jazz Band - T/TH 3:30 - 4:45PM - 1 credit hour

MUAP 353 - Guitar Ensemble - M 6:00 - 8:30PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 354 - Percussion Ensemble - M/W/F 12:20 - 1:10PM - 1 credit hou

*MUAP 352 - Brass Band - M/W 12:20 - 1:10PM & F 12:20 - 2:15PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 357 - Collaborative Piano M/W/F 12:20 - 1:10PM - 1 credit hour

MUAP 234 - Men's Chorus (Tenor/Bass Ensemble) - M/W 3:30-4:45PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 235 - Treble Chamber Choir - T/TH 3:30 - 4:45PM - 1 credit hour

MUAP 236 - Women's Chorus (Soprano/Alto Ensemble) - M/W 3:30 - 4:45PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 340 - Chorale - T/TH 2:00 - 3:15PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 341 - Madison Singers - M/W/F 11:15AM - 12:20PM - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 380 - Collegium (Early Music) - TBA - 1 credit hour

*MUAP 343 - Opera Theatre - M/T/W/TH 4:40 - 7:20PM (Eight Week 2) - 1-2 credit hours

*MUAP 360 - Opera/Music Theatre Orchestra - T/TH 5:00 - 6:15PM - 1 credit hour


*denotes required audition for entry into the ensemble

Regardless of concentration, the freshman year of study for music majors is designed to be similar for all students. The freshman year is devoted to courses from the basic music core requirements, General Education courses (9 hours of Cluster One plus selected courses from other clusters as appropriate to the music concentration), ensemble participation, and applied study in the student’s performance area.  

A typical freshman course of study might be:  

Semester I:

Keyboard Skills MUS 100, 101, 202, or 203 (depending on placement exam)

1 cr

Theory (see Undergraduate Music Theory)

3 cr

MUS 143 Aural Skills I

1 cr

MUS 195 Recital Attendance

0 cr

MUAP 300 Applied Music Lessons

2 cr

WRTC 103 Reading & Composition *


General Education Cluster One Course*

3 cr


1-2 cr


14-15 cr


Semester II:

Keyboard Skills MUS 101, 202, or 303

1 cr

Theory (see Undergraduate Music Theory)

3 cr

MUS 144 Aural Skills II

1 cr

MUS 195 Recital Attendance

0 cr

MUAP 300 Applied Music Lessons

2 cr

General Education Cluster One Course*

3 cr

MUS 206 Global Music (Music Major Section) [also counts in Genereal Education Cluster Two*, offered only in Spring semesters]

3 cr


1-2 cr


14-15 cr

*See General Education Planner for information about General Education 

For further details about concentration timelines, please see our Suggested Degree Timelines.

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