Frequently Asked Music Questions


What music degrees are offered at the Stark Campus?

Kent State University at Stark offers two bachelor's degree programs for students seeking high levels of professional competence necessary for successful music careers: the Bachelor of Science in Music Technology and the Bachelor of Arts in Music which offers a concentration in Popular Contemporary Music. Students can also complete four music minors in their entirety at the Stark Campus: Audio Recording, Music, Music Technology and World Music.

Students can complete the first two years of a B.M. in Performance or Composition and the first year of the B.M. in Music Education at Kent State Stark before transitioning to the Kent Campus to finish their degrees.

What instruments can I study?

Private applied lessons are given in the following areas:

  • Voice
  • Piano
  • Classical Guitar
  • Electric Guitar
  • Percussion
  • Drum-set
  • Double Bass
  • Electric Bass
  • Flute/Piccolo
  • Clarinet
  • Oboe/English Horn
  • Bassoon
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Horn
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba

Do I have to be a music major or minor to take music classes?

No. Many non-music majors take individual lessons on an instrument or voice. Students can also sing in one of the choirs or play in the concert band or one of the studio ensembles.

What do I do first if I just want to take some music classes?

The answer depends on what classes you are interested in taking. Some music classes require an audition or a placement test. First try to register for the class on your own. If your registration is blocked, then you should email Dr. Sebastian Birch at for further information.

What are the requirements for admission to the music program at Kent State Stark?

Students should first apply for admission to Kent State University at Stark. You must have a completed application and a completed FAFSA in order to be considered for admission to the music program.

What do I do first if I want to be a music major or minor?

After you have been admitted to Kent State University at Stark, you will need to take the music placement assessment, audition on your primary instrument or voice, and attend First Step (new freshmen) or meet with an academic advisor on the Stark Campus about course enrollment.

How do I take the music placement test?

Register for mandatory Music Placement & Audition.

What is covered in the music placement test?

The music placement test covers the following areas: reading musical notation of pitches and rhythm, major and minor (natural, harmonic, melodic) scales, key signatures (major and minor), meter and rhythm, intervals and triads.

Can I retake the music placement test?

Yes, but it is not recommended. If you decide to retake the test, you should study theory with a private instructor or self-study using textbooks and online resources before retaking the test.

What must I know and be able to do to be placed in Theory I?

Students should be able to:

  • Read music proficiently in treble and bass clefs up to three ledger lines above and below the staff.
  • Identify and notate rhythmic values (notes and rests).
  • Identify meters and associated time signatures (i.e. simple quadruple for common time, etc.)
  • Identify and notate major and minor (natural, harmonic, melodic) scales.
  • Identify key signatures.
  • Identify and notate simple intervals.
  • Identify and notate major, minor, augmented and diminished triads in root position.

I want to be placed into Theory I and avoid taking Fundamentals and Rudiments of Music. What can I do to prepare for the music placement test?

We recommend that you:

  • Take private piano/theory lessons.
  • Take AP Music Theory if it is offered at your high school. AP test scores in music do not directly count for credit at Kent State Stark, but students who score highly on the AP test generally test into advanced sections of theory.
  • Study on your own using a textbook or a web-based course. The same material used to prepare for an AP Music Theory test would prepare you well for our music placement test.

I have little or no experience playing keyboard. Do I need to take a keyboard placement test?

No, you will be placed in beginning Piano Class when you meet with an advisor.

I can't read music or play an instrument. Can I enter the music program?

Yes, but it is unlikely that you will graduate in four years. Kent State Stark offers all the necessary preparation courses in music theory and performance to get you started.

What music classes can I take in the summer before starting in the fall?

Typically, the following courses are offered during summer:

  • Music Rudiments - Depending on your background and Music Placement Test score, this class can prepare you to enter Theory I directly.
  • Piano Class for Non-Music Majors - This class is actually private piano lessons in the summer. This can give you a "leg up" on your keyboard skills.
  • Composition - This class allows you to work with an instructor and compose original music for acoustic or electronic instruments. Instructor permission is required. NOTE: This is not a necessary degree requirement for most music degrees.
  • Applied Lessons - Applied lessons on an instrument or voice are given after audition approval.

What is a primary instrument?

Your primary instrument is the principal instrument on which you will study and perform while majoring in music. Options include: piano/keyboard, guitar (classical or electric), bass (double bass or electric), voice, standard brass and woodwind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba) percussion or drum-set.

My primary instrument is violin, viola or cello. Can I take lessons? Can it be my primary instrument?

Maybe. Lessons for string instruments other than the double bass are ONLY offered at the Kent Campus. You will only be allowed to take lessons or to declare it as your primary instrument after a successful audition and acceptance into the music program through the string faculty on the Kent Campus.

What do I need to prepare for my instrumental or voice audition?

Every instrument/voice has different guidelines and requirements for the audition. For specifics, visit mandatory Music Placement & Audition.

How do I choose which music classes to take?

Music students have limited options if they hope to graduate on schedule. Each semester, you should plan on meeting with your assigned advisor within the music department as well as an academic advisor.

How do I choose which Kent Core courses to take?

For new freshmen, you'll attend First Step, our freshman advising and registration program. All other students will need to schedule an appointment with an academic advisor in the Office of Student Services. Schedule an advising appointment.

What classes will I most likely be taking my first semester?

A typical first semester schedule might look like this:

  • Music Production I (if you are a Music Technology major)
  • Theory course as determined by the music placement test
  • Piano
  • Applied lessons on your major instrument or voice
  • Ensemble (choir or band)
  • MUS 22111 - The Understanding of Music
  • Kent Core class
  • UC 10097 - Destination Kent State: First Year Experience

Can I take some of my music classes at the Kent Campus?

Yes, but it is advisable to meet with your assigned music department advisor and an academic advisor on the Stark Campus prior to registration.

What is the difference between Applied Music and Applied Studio Musicianship?

Applied Music refers to individual and class instruction on a traditional conservatory instrument. The emphasis is on Western Art Music (classical) repertoire and techniques. Applied Studio Musicianship refers to individual and class instruction on modern instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, drum-set, and non-classical vocal styles. The emphasis is on musical styles outside the Western Art Music tradition.


I have no background in either music or music technology. Can I take Music Production I?

Yes, but the course will be challenging. Students with no background in music should be prepared to put in extra time to familiarize themselves with musical concepts applicable to the course.

Can I start the Music Technology program in the the spring semester?

Yes, but you may not be able to take any theory or piano classes unless you were placed into Rudiments of Music or Theory II. Also, we strongly suggest that students beginning the Music Technology program in the spring plan on enrolling in Audio Recording I during the following summer. This will allow the student to get in sync with course sequencing by the following fall semester.

What classes can I take if I start in the spring semester?

  • Music Production I
  • MUS 22121 - Music as a World Phenomenon
  • Applied Instrument
  • Ensemble (choir or band)
  • Kent Core classes