Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Barbara Murphy

Committee Members

Philip Ewell, Don Pederson


The purpose of this study was to determine if there are relationships between theory placement level and major, major instrument, gender, ethnicity, and the location of the student’s high school of entering freshmen music students. The hypothesis was that there would be a relationship between instruments and scores on sections of the test, and that there would be no significant relationship between gender or ethnicity and score. It was also hypothesized there would be a relationship between major and/or location of the student’s high school and score.

Sixty students at least 18 years old auditioning for the University of Tennessee’s music department participated in the study. The subjects completed a theory placement test consisting of 77 questions; 11 on each of the following topics: seventh chords, rhythm, analysis, triads, intervals, notation, and key signatures. The students also completed a demographic survey containing questions on age, ethnicity, major, major instrument, and location of high school.

Results showed there was no statistical significance between major or major instrument and placement score; however, results did indicate that vocalists scored lower on all parts of the test and received the lowest overall score on the test. The percussionists participating in the study did very well overall on the test but the low number of participants in that instrument group (3) combined with the high scores of the participating students makes those results unreliable. Students who indicated an interest in music education also consistently scored in the lower third on the test as a whole. The results showed no significant relationships between gender and score and ethnicity and score. Further research needs to be conducted with more control for each demographic group. This could show more significant relationships not able to be confirmed in this study.

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