How to Get Ready for Music Core Classes - Coastal Carolina University
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How to Get Ready for Music Core Classes

When we say someone ‘knows’ music fundamentals, it can mean different things. Let’s think about three levels of ‘knowing’:

Familiarity is being aware of the basic concepts, understanding how to get the right answer, but perhaps not having an ability to work with the materials in real-time. It’s like studying a language where you can read it aloud, look words up and conjugate the most common verbs, but can’t really follow a conversation or read a newspaper article in that language.

Proficiency is being able to work with the material, getting the answers in a reasonable time, but perhaps struggling a bit to keep up in a real-time musical situation. It’s like being able to have a conversation in a language, but you miss parts of many sentences, and continually have to translate what you hear back to English in your mind.

Fluency is absorbing the materials to where most of it is second nature. It is like a second language where you are able to not just speak or comprehend but to think in that language. Wouldn’t that be nice?

As far as the basic materials of music, we would like you to have as much familiarity as possible at the start of the various sequences. This will be a base upon which you can build increasing skills and comprehension. By spending more time practicing this material, you can progress to proficiency. We would like you to be at that point later in the first semester. Fluency comes later as you are immersed in a musical environment every day and function as a listening, playing and thinking musician. None of these stages come from merely reading a definition, solving a few exercises or passing a single test. You will progress bit by bit through effective practice, mindful music-making and good study habits.

Reporting your results to us: It’s important for you and for us to know where you are in your knowledge when we start the semester. On the following pages we explain what we expect you to do and how to do it. For each exercise, take your best score and email the results to Dr. Andrew Fowler at, or bring the printed result sheets to the first day of classes. We’re here to help you, so don’t worry if you can’t do all of it yet.