Various departments of the School of Church Music have compiled suggestions for students preparing to take comprehensive examinations. These suggestions, areas of study, and sample questions follow. However, these examinations are truly comprehensive and concerned with all facets of all courses. The student should therefore have a wide-ranging knowledge of each individual subject as well as a thorough understanding of the relationships between areas and be able to express it in a concise, clear, and well-organized manner. The following lists are provided only as a reminder of some of the areas that may be covered on the exams.
serial procedures: twelve-tone technique, serialization of rhythm, dynamics, articulation
aleatoric, indeterminacy, set theory
Dallin, Leon. Techniques of Twentieth Century Composition: A Guide to the Materials of Modern Music. 3d ed. Dubuque, IA: W. C. Brown, 1974.
Kostka, Stefan M. Materials and Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music. 2d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.
Lester, Joel. Analytic Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music. New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.
The written examination is based primarily on the identification and discussion of five or six musical scores. The exam will focus on sacred music but instrumental works will also be included. The student will need to supply the period of composition and a possible composer for each excerpt. Other items that will need to be provided for some of the excerpts include:
musical characteristics typical of the period of composition
identification of standard liturgical texts (including items of the mass, the requiem, and the canticles)
translations of instrument names (especially period instruments) and score indications
identification of specific compositional techniques
In addition, information on a select number of sacred music masterpieces will be tested, either through objective questions or brief essays. For each of the works below, know the following:
source(s) of text, their musical setting, and their dramatic function
provide an overview of a period (e.g., style characteristics, new genres, composers and titles of works)
trace the development of a genre (e.g., mass, oratorio, symphony)
identify composers (period in which they were active, works composed, musical style)
identify composers of specific works
discuss a score (as in the written portion)
integrate historical and theoretical concepts
Philosophy in Ministry
The student should be able to discuss in a comprehensive manner the biblical, theological, and philosophical foundations that have, throughout Christian history, provided the bases for attitudes and practices in church music and that form the basis for the student’s own concepts. The following are possible questions:
Explain the role of Scripture in the development of a worship and music philosophy. Cite and explain at least two examples in Scripture that imply the use of logic in biblical philosophy. Be able to define the following terms: Sola Scriptura, application.
Describe the history of the debate over how music communicates. Be able to define the following terms: emotion, arousal theory, mimesis, expressive, dispositional theory, sympathy theory, doctrine of the affections, physiological theory, Hanslick, formalism, absolute music, cognitive theory of the emotions, Langer, idea of emotion, contour theory.
Explain how music carries meaning. Also, list and briefly explain at least one passage of Scripture that should inform a Christian view of musical meaning. Be able to define the following terms: bioacoustical, metaphor, conventional association, national association, emotion characteristic in appearance.
Describe how the church’s philosophy concerning music and culture has changed from the early church to the present day. Be sure to cover Old Testament, early church, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and the Twentieth Century. Be able to define the following terms: world-conscious, self-conscious, cult, Plato, pagan worship, Augustine, Boethius, doctrine of ethos, Aristotelianism, humanism, realism, nominalism.
Explain the relevance of Acts 17:16–34 and 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 to discussions of cultural contextualization. Be able to define the following terms: contextualization, “provoked,” unknown god, “very religious,” “all things to all men.”
Define culture biblically. Explain how culture relates to race-related terms like ethnos and world-related terms like kosmos and aion. Finally, indicate what kinds of terms in the New Testament most closely relate to the contemporary notion of culture, and cite at least two biblical passages that are relevant to discussions of culture.
Explain, compare, and contrast the Neo-Calvinist approach to culture and the Two Kingdom approach. What implications do each of these approaches have for artistic ministry in the church? Be able to define the following terms: cultural mandate, creation, fall, redemption, common grace, antithesis, worldview, sacred/secular distinction.
Define beauty biblically. Explain the concepts in Scripture that should inform a philosophy of beauty, and provide at least two biblical passages that are relevant to discussions of beauty in the arts. Be able to define the following terms in the course of your essay: beauty, universal, subjective, objective, relative, glory, art.
How does instrumental music fit into worship ministry? Where in scripture is it authenticated? How is it best employed? What is your personal purpose in bringing multiple instruments into the worship environment?
Discuss the roles or functions of each of the following in church music ministry: choir, congregation, organist/pianist, children’s music organizations, worship team
Discuss the role of children, youth, and senior adults in worship. (As you discuss this, please include discussion on the following questions: Are they important? What does each group contribute to worship? How can they be engaged in non-token ways? Is the family unit important in corporate worship?)
The student should be familiar with the styles, forms, and periods of congregational song throughout Christian history. The student should be able to discuss the great movements in hymnic development, giving illustrative texts and tunes. Following are some sample questions or question areas:
Discuss the hymn as poetry, including rhyme scheme, hymnic meter, poetic meter, poetic devices, and imagery.
Discuss the hymn as music, including melody, harmony, rhythm and meter, form, types of tunes (e.g., plainsong, Lutheran chorale, psalm tune, gospel hymn)
Discuss the use of Scripture in congregational song (e.g., versification, paraphrase, allusion) and the relationship of theology and doctrines with hymns
Discuss the historical backgrounds, theological beliefs, styles of texts, styles of hymn tunes, authors, terminology, and significant collections related to:
Old Testament psalms
Lutheran hymnody/German chorale
British psalmody and hymnody, especially:
John and Charles Wesley
John Newton/William Cowper
American hymnody, including:
Sunday School songs
Students may be asked to identify the names of persons – by nationality, period, work (author, translator, composer, arranger, compiler, editor) – who have made a significant contribution to hymnody. (Example: Isaac Watts / English / 18th century / author)
Students may be asked to identify texts associated with hymn tunes (by name). (Example: NICAEA – “Holy, Holy, Holy”)
Be able to identify and briefly discuss the most significant hymn collections including Achterliederbuch, Genevan Psalter, English Psalter, Bay Psalm Book, etc.
Students may be asked to provide bibliography on specific subjects, such as books on hymns, books on hymn tunes, hymnal companions, biographies of authors/composers.
Students may be asked to scan hymn texts, identify poetic devices, hymnic meters, rhyme scheme, biblical imagery, etc., and analyze melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically one or more hymn tunes, and identify the style and time frame.
Students need to study all aspects of the worship class as outlined in the syllabus and study guides. However, this guide will help them focus their study on the more salient issues.
Discuss important features of the following Hebrew Worship Periods: Patriarchal Period, Mosaic Period, Period of the Judges, Temple, and Prophets. Note where the primary centers of worship were, how they were instituted, what constituted their primary practices, and what problems occurred.
Describe the music in the Old Testament temple. What accompaniment instruments were used, who was allowed to be musicians, who led the musicians, and what were the songs like? How did Hebrew singing contrast with pagan singing? What significance does this information have for congregational song today? Be able to define the following terms: kinnor, nevel, logogenic, pathogenic, psalm.
Discuss similarities between Hebrew worship and pagan worship. Identify possible explanations for these similarities and defend one of them. Describe critical differences between Hebrew worship and pagan worship.
Discuss Jesus’ involvement with synagogue and temple worship. Know the basic elements of synagogue worship, including its historical development and role in Hebrew society. As well, discuss how Christ revealed Himself and God’s purpose in these settings. Please include Scripture citations.
Explain the significance of the "Table" in Hebrew and Christian worship practice.
Compare the writings of Pliny the Younger, Justin’s First Apology, and the Didache. First, identify each source and applicable worship elements. Second, compare the writings and describe late 1st and early 2nd Century worship practice.
Outline the primary elements of historic liturgy in the Church from Constantine to the Council of Trent.
What were the major worship issues leading to the Reformation? In other words, what were the issues of the Catholic Church in the 14th and 15th centuries concerning congregational involvement in worship (mass), role of the priests and prayer, and role of scripture?
Thoroughly compare and contrast the German, Swiss, French, and British Reformations including key leaders, historical circumstances, and beliefs concerning worship, liturgy, the medieval church, baptism, church music, and the Lord’s Supper. Be able to define the regulative principle, the normative principle, iconoclasm, transubstantiation, sacramental union, adiaphora, Act of Supremacy, Book of Common Prayer, Westminster Assembly, and the London Baptist Confession, and discuss key leaders including Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, Henry VIII, Cranmer, Knox, and Smyth
Compare and contrast the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Normative Principle of Worship. Define each view and list several important church leaders who have held the view. Finally, defend one of the views biblically.
Thoroughly discuss Charles Finney’s influence upon Evangelical worship in America, including the cultural climate of the time, Finney’s theology, contrast between revival and revivalism, and the results for worship after Finney. Be able to give descriptions of the following names and ideas: affections, passions, emotion, Enlightenment, pop culture, Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, new measures, Pelagianism, revival, revivalism.
Describe a gospel-shaped (or Isaiah 6) worship liturgy. Name the key elements of this liturgy and explain its biblical logic.
Outline the major seasons of the Christian year. Include a brief explanation of each item and include at least one example of an appropriate congregational song to include in a worship service for that particular season.
All students in an applied concentration should be able to address the following topics in their specific area.
Diction (conducting and voice concentrations)
Philosophy of program building
Bibliography and discography
History of performers and performances
Be able to discuss and demonstrate the skills specifically required of pianists for successful accompanying and ensemble playing (“listening vs. hearing,” voicing, phrasing, articulation). Also be able to discuss the practice of reducing an orchestral score to a piano score, and that of the imitation of orchestral instruments on the piano.
Know the place of the piano and the harpsichord in the literature of chamber music.
Know the names, style, and poetic subject matter of the main song cycles of the vocal literature (lieder), and the most performed songs (chanson) of French composers Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel.
Be able to identify the major works written for piano and instrument (violin, viola, violoncello; flute, clarinet, oboe; trumpet).
Be able to summarize the contributions of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms to the literature written for piano duo or two pianos.
For each of the above items, have a speaking knowledge of style, specifically that which refers to the place of the piano as an equal partner in the ensemble.
Know and be able to articulate the role of accompanist as collaborative pianist.
Shirlee Emmons, The Art of the Song Recital
Maurice Hinson, Music for More Than One Piano
, The Piano in Chamber Music
Deon Nielson Price, Accompanying Skills for Pianists
Gerald Moore, Am I Too Loud?
, Farewell Recital
, The Schubert Song Cycles
, Singer and Accompanist: The Performance of Fifty Songs
, The Unashamed Accompanist
The concentration examination in composition tests the student’s knowledge and proficiency in post-tonal analysis, score and composer identification of works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, orchestration, and composition.
Be able to discuss and demonstrate the skills and techniques specifically required of conductors:
The posture of a conductor
2. Establishing the conducting plane
a. Choral conducting preferences
b. Instrumental preferences
3. Extension and “impulse of will”
4. Maintaining central location as norm
5. Adapting to circumstances
6. Use of podium and stand height
Conducting without baton
1. Hand position; relaxed, flexible and natural looking
2. Transfer of focus and energy from smaller to larger parts of the body
The three parts of every conducting gesture
d. Avoiding “double preps” and “counting off”
a. Clarity and strength to vary the expressiveness and style
a. Size and speed
(“Music is not what happens on the beat, but what happens between the beats.”)
Basic Conducting Patterns
1. Cyclical nature of conducting gestures and the control and communication that occurs between beat points
2. Two Frame (2/4, cut time)
3. Three Frame (3/4)
4. Four Frame (4/4)
5. Two Frame (5/4, 6/4)
6. Three Frame (9/4, divided 3)
7. Four Frame (12/4, divided 4)
Asymmetrical Conducting Patterns
1. Two Frame (5/8 = 3+2 or 2+3)
3. Three Frame (8/8 = 3+2+3 or 2+3+3 or 3+3+2; 7/8 = 2+2+3 etc.)
4. Four Frame (10/8 = 3+3+2+2 etc. or 11/8 = 3+3+3+2 etc. )
Preparation of any beat
1. One full beat
2. Move up in the direction opposite the prepared beat
3. In tempo
The release or Cut-Off
1. Should have the same dynamic and stylistic intensity as the sound you are releasing
2. Determining the direction of the release
3. “Stop” release
4. Releases with baton vs. left hand
Incorporating the use of negation
1. To clarify rhythmical durations
2. Before important entrances
3. During rests
Conducting micro vs. macro rhythms
Frequent meter changes
Thinking ahead while hearing the now
The principle of “economy of motion”
1. Focuses attention upon the music, not the conductor
2. Always leaves something for reserve
3. Choreography versus conducting
4. Showing the drama and passion of the music
5. Awareness of extraneous body motion
a. “Mouthing” the words
b. Head motions
c. Bending at the knees or waist
d. Bouncing on the toes
e. Hitches in the beat patterns
f. Never sing with the choir as you conduct
Conducting with a baton
1. Basic grip
2. Floating versus a firm wrist action
1. Active gestures (characterized by the presence of “impulse of will”)
a. Legato (smooth, flowing connection from ictus to ictus)
b. Staccato (momentary stop of all motion immediately after the reflex)
d. Gesture of Syncopation (stop at the top of the rebound before the beat that requires the after-beat response)
Passive gestures (characterized by the lack of “impulse of will”)
a. “Dead” gestures
b. Preparatory beats (avoid double preps)
Conducting the fermata
1. Fermata - cessation of rhythm and suspension of time (executed with a sustained tenuto gesture)
2. Releasing a fermata: 2 methods
a. Fermata without a caesura (fermata acts as an elongated tenuto; no release necessary)
b. Fermata with a caesura (the release acts as the preparation for the next beat; release in the opposite direction of the next beat)
Use of the left hand
1. Independence between the hands
2. Activating and deactivating the left hand
3. For the execution of cues/releases
1. Defining the purpose
a. Thematic content
b. Entrance after long rest
c. Direct the attention of the audience
1. Gradual changes
2. Subito changes
3. Use of the left hand
A. Shaping a line
B. Use of the left hand
Discuss 5-10 works that include chorus and orchestra
Define musical terms
Name anthems or major works by a variety of famous composers
Annotated Bibliography of the following subjects:
History of Choral Literature
The written examination is based primarily on the identification and discussion of conducting five or six musical scores. The exam will focus on choral sacred music but instrumental works will also be included. The student will need to supply the period of composition and a possible composer for each excerpt.
Other items that will need to be provided include:
The ability to draw all patterns for meters (1-12) that may be utilized to conduct the specific score
The ability to discuss conducting problems within a given piece of music
The procedures to be utilized in achieving balance, blend, diction, rhythmic precision, phrasing, cut-offs, and all various aspects of performance
The musical characteristics typical of the period of composition
A description of your personal philosophy of conducting technique as it relates to stance, posture, conducting with or without baton, use of left hand, plane, and parts of the conducting gestures (preparation, ictus, rebound)
Translations of text, instrument names (especially period instruments), and score indications
Identification of specific compositional techniques and music terms
Basic bibliography in conducting technique, choral diction, voice pedagogy, history of choral and/or instrumental literature, and score study
In addition, information on a select number of sacred music masterpieces will be tested, either through objective questions or brief essays. For each of the works below, know the following:
Historical background and unique conducting issues found within
Source(s) of text, general instrumentation, musical setting, and their dramatic function
Style and structural issues that relate to conducting
Bach, St. Matthew Passion
Haydn, The Creation
Beethoven, Missa solemnis
Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem
Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms
Honegger, Le Roi David
Britten, War Requiem
Be prepared to do the following:
Provide an overview of a period (e.g., style characteristics, performance practices, new genres, composers and titles of works)
Trace the development of a choral and/or instrumental genre (e.g., mass, oratorio, symphony)
Identify composers (period in which they were active, choral/instrumental works composed, musical style)
Identify composers of specific choral and instrumental works
Define musical terms
Discuss conducting problems within a given piece of music
Discuss choral and instrumental techniques used in achieving outstanding musical outcomes in performance (e.g., articulation, balance, dynamics, phrasing)
Explain and identify all transposing and non-transposing instruments (understanding concert pitch with regard to their notated and sounded pitches)
Discuss the expressive gestures in conducting
Discuss your methodology for score study and preparation
Discuss the problems of conducting music with regard to stylistic traits, historical backgrounds, and musical forces
Provide a bibliography of all related subjects in the study of conducting
Provide anthem literature and composers in the various historical periods and in various categories, such as hymn arrangements, psalm settings, and appropriate pieces for use at Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter
Identify composers and major works for Christmas, Easter, and other designated times and occasions of the church calendar
Identify major choral works by such notable composers as Bach, Handel, Purcell, Brahms, Fauré, Holst, Stravinsky, Orff, Kodály, Thompson, Dello Joio, Bernstein, Britten, and Rutter
Describe the physical processes in singing: respiration, phonation, resonation, and articulation
Provide an in-depth awareness of the related processes and methodologies for explaining and teaching proper vocal and choral techniques (e.g., voice registers, voice classification, phonation, breathing, posture, vibrato, resonance, articulation, diction, vowel positions, consonant sounds, syllabic stress, and the correction of problems)
Produce and describe correct vowel and consonant sounds utilizing IPA symbols
Translate basic Italian, Latin, and German texts and terms into English
Score-reading at the piano will include four-part open score playing of given choral works, string quartets, and/or early classical period symphonic works with transposing instruments.
Be prepared to do the following:
Demonstrate a clear understanding of the roots of jazz and the various style periods as well as their important performers/sidemen and landmark recordings/compositions. Jazz is preserved for our study and enjoyment through recordings. Unlike western art music, which can be studied through printed scores, very little about the essence of jazz is written down.
Define important terminology related to jazz.
Analyze a transcribed jazz solo.
Discuss the history of your instrument since 1900 and be able to discuss the important performers who contributed to its development in jazz music.
Identify important compositions in a listening test.
Transcribe a passage from a listening example that contains a single line melody or chords.
Demonstrate skills learned in specialized courses you have taken during your degree, such as jazz composition, church orchestra practicum, advanced jazz improvisation, etc.
The student should be familiar with the historical, philosophical, social, and psychological foundations of music education and how they relate to church music education. A solid knowledge of the main approaches to teaching music for all age groups is expected as well as the solution to the problems encountered in teaching music. The student should be familiar with the resources for educational materials used in music ministry. The following are possible areas from which questions will be drawn:
What are the Biblical foundations for children’s music ministry? In other words, identify the major Scripture passages (at least 3) and discuss how each passage serves as a foundation for the inclusion of children in the worship, discipleship, and missions purposes of the local church.
Vocal ranges for all age groups and genders.
What are the criteria used to select music for choir ministries for various age groups: (Remember to consider things such as cognitive abilities and physical limitations). Describe a spiral curriculum and discuss how a spiral approach to worship can aid in integration of all generations.
Discuss the main approaches to teaching music (Kodály, Orff, Dalcroze Eurhythmics). Identify who created the system, discuss the basic tenants of each approach, and apply the use of the system to a local church children’s choir.
Discuss ways in which a choral conductor can deal with the spiritual aspects of a choir.
Describe a procedure to teach children singing in parts.
Be prepared to discuss influential educational terms and ideas including the Zone of Proximal Development and Bloom’s taxonomy.
Describe the issues that would be created in having an elementary music class at church with grades K-6 in the same room, giving special consideration to the developmental stages included in such a setting. Then, give strategies and accommodations for overcoming those challenges.
Identify, explain, and place in historical context the educational philosophy that produced children's musicals.
Music History concentrations should be thoroughly competent with the information provided above under the general music exams. In addition, students should be prepared to:
discuss each period in music history, citing changes in musical styles, new genres and emphases, representative composers and their works, and cultural background (political and religious)
trace the developments of sacred music genres (e.g., mass, motet, anthem, oratorio) as well as instrumental genres (e.g., sonata, symphony, concerto, string quartet)
identify briefly composers, theorists, terms, and titles
The concentration examination in music theory tests the student’s ability to analyze music from any period of music history and to write effectively regarding the analysis. The test consists of one or more musical examples that the student must analyze and write a short essay outlining the results of the analysis. Other components that may appear on the exam will be definition of terms relating to music theory and scores for identification.
The written examination consists of following sections:
Brief definitions of terms
Long Essay on a particular “school”
Discuss for example, the French Classic, North German, German Romantic, French Symphonic, or Neo-Baroque/Neo-Classic school
Discuss representative composers, compositions, style, and characteristics of representative organs
Subjects may include nationalistic characteristics, genres, periods, major composers, organ building, and pedagogy (philosophy and knowledge of method books)
Identify primary and secondary sources
Identify possible period, style, nationality, “school,” and composer of about twelve score excerpts
The oral examination covers subjects tested on the written examination with emphasis on areas in which the student showed weakness in the written examination.
Students will be able to discuss in detail such pedagogy concepts as associationist/cognitive learning theory, being able to identify benefits and negative points of each as well as major founders associated with each.
Discuss discovery learning process and how it relates to cognitive learning.
Discuss the process involved in teaching motor skills and cognitive concepts.
Be familiar with different note reading methods and be able to give a critical evaluation of a beginning method book, citing all facets of teaching such as rhythm, musicianship, and technique.
Understand techniques of judging and evaluating student performances.
Be able to discuss the process of developing a student’s technique, with an understanding of different approaches and methods.
Have a broad understanding of beginning and intermediate teaching literature with familiarity of both standard classical literature as well as popular teaching repertoire. Understand all stages involved in a student’s repertoire including planning, choosing, assigning, teaching, preparing and polishing for performance, and memory skills.
Students will be familiar with methods involved in teaching in different settings including the private lesson, group class, functional skills teaching, and masterclass.
Know the principles of good technique: the salient points which lead to tonal control, speed, strength, alignment, and clarity in piano playing.
Be able to discuss the development of the major genres and forms of piano literature throughout history (sonata, theme and variations, and others)
Be able to identify the major works for piano by opus number (certain Beethoven sonatas, Schumann multi-movement character pieces, Schubert sonatas, Brahms character pieces, and others)
Program Building: Building a program chronologically (oldest music to newest, or vice versa), by texture, key, length, or other considerations
Stage presence and decorum, timing, acoustical considerations, and similar issues
Know all relevant information relating to the pieces you performed on your recital
Bibliography and Discography
Be able to identify the focus of significant books on piano literature and on the biographies of the major composers for piano from the 17th century to the present.
Know what complete editions of the composers of the common practice period are recommended. Be conversant with those materials which support teaching and the history of teaching the piano, and the piano’s construction.
History of Performers and Performances
Be familiar with the names and playing styles of pianists who have contributed the most to the art of playing the piano over the last two hundred years.
Voice Pedagogy/Voice Performance
Famous singers of the past and present in the six major voice classifications: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, bass
Major composers of Italian, German, French, American, and British solo vocal literature: their major solo vocal works, including titles of individual songs and song cycles as well as the poets or sources of the texts of these works
Titles of books and authors used as sources for the following: voice pedagogy, foreign language diction, solo vocal literature, translations of texts, interpretation of song literature
Voice pedagogy terminology with definitions, descriptions, examples (based on texts by McKinney, Miller, and others). This section will be more extensive for the Voice Pedagogy concentration.
Plan a recital for a voice type other than your own at various age levels (high school, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral) in various voice categories
Transcribe into IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) excerpts of Italian, French, and German recitative and solo song texts
Answer questions related to repertoire presented in the Voice Performance or Voice Pedagogy recital
Answer questions correctly that were incorrect on the written exam
Be prepared to discuss in detail a philosophy of proper vocal technique
Be prepared to name composers of solo song from various countries when titles are given
Be prepared to discuss/compare styles of composers of solo vocal literature
Master of Arts in Church Music The written examination for MACM students is a single exam on church music. The student should consult the headings above for Philosophy in Ministry, Congregational Song, Worship, and Music Education.
The oral examination will include questions concerning church music as well as music theory, music history, and the student’s applied area. The sections above on those additional areas will be helpful as well.