MUS-T151 (Music Theory and Literature I) is the first class in the core music theory sequence for undergraduate students in the Jacobs School of Music. T151 is offered only in the fall semester. Before students can enroll in T151, they must demonstrate mastery of music fundamentals, such as notation, intervals, scales, key signatures, and triads.
There are three ways of satisfying the prerequisites for T151:
- Completing the Music Fundamentals Online quizzes with a score of 83% or better
- Completing MUS-T109 (Rudiments of Music) with a grade of C or better
- Competing MUS-Z211 (Music Theory II for non-majors) with a grade of C or better
The concepts within MFO underlie the topics studied in T151 and all subsequent music theory courses (including both written theory and aural skills), so it is essential that students master them thoroughly. Students who attempt to take T151 without a solid mastery of these fundamentals almost certainly find themselves inadequately prepared. For these reasons, the prerequisites for T151 are strictly enforced. Students who register for T151 but who are found not to have satisfied the prerequisites as described here will not be allowed to remain in the course.
Music Fundamentals Online (MFO)
MFO is an online platform for assessing and learning the basics of music theory. Developed for incoming music majors at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, MFO provides online instruction during the summer before students enroll to prepare them for the core music theory sequence. Completing MFO during the summer is the preferred way of satisfying the prerequisites for T151.
Incoming IU students will automatically be added to the MFO Canvas roster once they sign up for orientation. If you are an incoming student and have questions about MFO, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief outline of your situation.
Evaluation and placement
Before beginning MFO, students take a series of quizzes that evaluate their current competencies. Each topic (see below) also has a corresponding module. Students must complete each of the modules for which additional instruction and practice are needed. Once the module is completed, the student will have one more chance to pass the quiz for that module. Students can and do test out of anywhere from none to all of MFO.
The quizzes usually take between 20 and 60 minutes. Users should plan to complete them in one sitting.
Unit 1: Pitch
- The Staff
- Treble and Bass Clefs
- C Clefs
- Pitch Notation
Unit 2: Rhythm
- Basic Durations
- Ties and Augmentation Dots
- Rhythm Notation
Unit 3: Scales
- Introduction to Scales
- Major Scales
- Minor Scales
- Scale Degree Listening
Unit 4: Key Signatures
- Major Key Signatures
- Minor Key Signatures
- Relations between Keys
Unit 5: Intervals
- Interval Size
- Interval Quality: 2nds and 3rds
- Ear Training for 2nds and 3rds
- Interval Quality: 6ths and 7ths
- Ear Training for 6ths and 7ths
- Interval Quality: 4ths and 5ths
- Ear Training for 4ths and 5ths
- Advanced Interval Topics
Unit 6: Chords
- Triad Scoring
- Triadic Inversion
- Seventh Chords
- Seventh Chord Inversions
Each Lesson introduces students to a concept and models the skills targeted with an activity. The student must display competency by meeting a clearly articulated Goal (e.g., Correctly identify the octave number of five out of six notes in a row with an average time of 6 seconds or less per note).
Getting T109 credit for completing MFO
Music majors who successfully complete MFO during the summer and subsequently complete T151 will automatically receive credit for T109.
Non-music majors who successfully complete MFO during the summer do not automatically receive course credit for doing so, but they can later receive T109 credit (including the General Education credit) in either of the following ways:
- If a student who has completed MFO subsequently completes T151 with a grade of D– or better, the student may fill out a special credit application in the Music Undergraduate Office in order to receive T109 credit.
- A student who has completed MFO, or any part of MFO, may register for the online section of T109 in a later semester. MFO modules already completed will count toward the requirements for T109. The student will need to complete any remaining modules, and take the two exams.
Rudiments of Music (MUS-T109)
Rudiments of Music (MUS-T109) is taken by students in the Jacobs School of Music who do not complete MFO during the summer as a way of satisfying the prerequisites for T151 (Music Theory and Literature I). T109 is also taken by many non-music majors as an introduction to the fundamentals of music theory.
T109 is offered every fall as a traditional class, and in both the fall and spring semesters as an online class. The content of T109 is similar to the content of MFO and carries three credit hours of General Education Arts and Humanities credit.
Because T151 is offered only in the fall semester, students who take T109 during the academic year will be unable to take T151 until the following fall.
Online sections of T109 are offered in eight-week sessions during the fall and spring semesters. The primary work in the class is done online, using the MFO course in Canvas. Students are required to complete the all of the MFO quizzes and modules. For security reasons and for the determination of the course grade, students enrolled in online T109 are also required to take two in-person examinations. The course grade is calculated on the basis of completion of the required MFO modules and the grades on the two exams.
There are three mandatory in-person meetings for each online section of T109: an informational meeting during week 1, and the two exams in weeks 4 and 8. For the dates of the required in-person meetings each semester, see the listing for MUS-T109 in the current Schedule of Classes. Otherwise, all work required for the course is done online. The online work is largely self-paced, but students must complete the MFO modules by specified deadlines (listed in the course syllabus) in order to receive credit for them.
Introduction to Music Theory I and II (Z111–211)
MUS-Z111 and Z211 are music theory classes for non-music majors. Credit for the Z courses cannot be applied to degrees in the Jacobs School of Music. Z211 can, however, substitute for T109 as a prerequisite for T151. A student who has completed Z211 with a grade of C or better is eligible to enroll in T151, even if the student has never taken MFO or T109. Note that Z111 is a prerequisite for Z211, so a student will generally need to complete two semesters of Z courses in order to satisfy the T151 prerequisite in this way.
Frequently Asked Questions
About Music Fundamentals Online
Do I need any special hardware or software to work on MFO?
MFO should work properly on most computers or devices manufactured in the last several years. You will need an Internet connection, a web browser, and a Canvas login (through IU CAS). You will need to use your computer’s audio (either speakers or headphones), so you should be in a quiet location where you will not be disruptive to others.
How long do the MFO quizzes take?
The quizzes usually takes between 20 and 60 minutes. You should plan to complete the quizzes in one session.
If I answer all the questions correctly on the MFO quizzes, does that mean that I won’t need to complete any modules at all?
Yes, it does! Very few students do this well on the quizzes; most students need to complete at least a few modules.
How long does it take to complete the MFO modules?
That depends on how many modules you are required to take (based on your performance on the quizzes). If you need to complete a large number of modules, many hours of work could be involved. This is a very good reason to start working on MFO as early as possible!
Do all the modules have to be completed in one sitting?
No. The quizzes should be completed in one sitting, but you are free to work on the modules on your own time. You are also free to work on modules that you passed for additional practice.
May I get help from a friend/parent/teacher while working on MFO?
No. You are expected to do all the work for MFO independently.
If you are a music major, you will eventually take nine music theory classes (five in written theory and four in aural skills). The material covered in MFO is essential background knowledge for every one of those classes. If someone else is helping you answer the questions in MFO, you may get into T151 and subsequent classes and find that you are not adequately prepared because you do not have a solid grasp of the fundamentals.
If you are enrolled in the online section of T109, you should be aware that the two in-person exams are weighted heavily in the calculation of your course grade. You will not be allowed to receive any assistance during those exams. To prepare yourself as well as possible for exams, you should work through MFO on your own.
I’m trying to complete MFO but I’m having problems. Where can I get help?
If you need help with MFO during the summer, either with the course content or with technical problems, send an email to email@example.com for assistance. If you are enrolled in T109 online in the fall or spring semester, you should contact the instructor in charge of the class.
What is the success rate among the students who attempt MFO?
In 2012–14, the first three years that MFO was available to incoming music majors at the Jacobs School of Music, 85 to 90 percent of entering music majors successfully completed MFO during the summer and were placed in T151.
Is MFO available to anyone outside Indiana University?
Not currently. If you’re interested to find out more, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About prerequisites for T151
I’m planning to take T151 in the fall. Do I need to complete MFO before registering?
You may register for T151 during the summer while your work on MFO is in progress. If you have not completed MFO by the August deadline, you will be required to drop T151.
I am an incoming music major. I did not successfully complete MFO during the summer. Can I still take T151 in the fall?
No. In order to be sure that you will be able to take T151 a year later, you should probably take T109. If you find the material very difficult, you may find it preferable to take the traditional T109 rather than the online section, so that you can receive personal assistance in a classroom setting. Remember that the traditional T109 class is offered only during the fall semester. You do have the option to attempt MFO again in the following summer, but if you fail to complete it again, that will delay your progress another year.
I’m a non-music major, and I would like to take T151. I didn’t find out about MFO until the first day of classes in the fall semester. What can I do?
Some students hoping to take T151 in the fall may miss the opportunity to take MFO during the summer. For these students, a final opportunity to take MFO is offered during the first week of classes in the fall semester. If you can complete MFO in a few days, you may be able to get into T151.
Completion of MFO during this short period of time may be difficult, and access to MFO during this time will be by special permission only. Send an email to email@example.com to describe your circumstances and request permission. Incoming music majors who received information about MFO are expected to meet the regular summer deadline and will not be given permission to take MFO during the first week of classes.
I completed MFO in the summer, expecting to take T151 in the fall, but then decided not to take T151 after all (or I dropped T151 partway through the fall semester). Can I get credit for MFO?
You can sign up for the online section of T109 in the fall or spring semester. All the work you have completed for MFO will count toward the T109 requirements. You will need to take the two in-person exams. See “Getting T109 credit for completing MFO” above.
I took advanced-placement theory in high school. Do I still need to take MFO?
Yes. The only accepted ways to satisfy the prerequisites for T151 are those listed at the top of this page. If your knowledge of fundamentals is solid, you should be able to demonstrate this when you take the MFO quizzes. If you pass out of most or all of the modules on the quizzes, you may not need to spend much time on MFO.
I have taken several advanced music theory courses. Can I test out of T151 and/or other courses?
See our information about Validation/Exemption exams.
About the online T109 class
What is the difference between the traditional and online T109 classes? Which one should I take?
The content of the two T109 classes is similar (see above), but the style of instruction is very different. The traditional T109 class (offered only in the fall semester) meets in a classroom, with an instructor, four times per week over the course of a semester. The online class is an eight-week class in which the work is primarily done online, on your own schedule (but with required deadlines). Although there are only a few required meetings for the online class, students should expect that many hours of independent work will be required.
Many students work well independently and enjoy the freedom offered by the online class. On the other hand, some students may benefit from the regular contact with an instructor in the traditional class. You may want to consider the traditional class if you have a hard time motivating yourself to work on your own time or if you find this material very difficult. In particular, students who attempted MFO during the summer but were unable to complete it should be aware that the online T109 class involves working with the same MFO Canvas course, so those students might find the traditional class preferable.
If I take the online T109 class and need help, will there be someone to help me?
Yes. There is an instructor in charge of the online class. You will meet the instructor and get his or her contact information at the introductory meeting (see the Schedule of Classes for the date and time of this meeting); this information will also be given in the course syllabus. The instructor may offer online office hours at specified times; additionally, you may contact the instructor any time you need help. You should be aware, however, that because of the large number of students in the online class, the instructor’s time for individual meetings with any one student will be limited. If you need more extensive personal help than the instructor is able to provide, you may hire a tutor.
Is all the work for the class done online? Do I need to be online at specified times, or can I work on my own schedule, whenever I want?
For security reasons and for the determination of the course grade, students in the online T109 class are required to take two in-person exams. These exams are administered at specified times and places on the Bloomington campus. The dates and times of the exams each semester may be found in the Schedule of Classes.
Apart from the exams, your work is done online, using the MFO Canvas page. This work is largely self-paced; you do not need to be online at any particular time. You must, however, complete the MFO modules by specified deadlines (listed in detail in the course syllabus).
The instructor may hold occasional online office hours at designated times. Participation in online office hours is not required; students wishing to participate will need to be online at the specified times.
Is there a textbook for the online class?
No. All the required material is presented within the MFO Canvas page. A few music fundamentals textbooks are on reserve in the Music Library, where they are available to students who may find them useful for additional study or practice.
How is the grade for the online class determined?
Your grade is based on (1) completion of the MFO modules, and (2) your performance on the two in-class exams. The MFO modules themselves are not graded; they are either complete or incomplete. As long as you complete the modules by the required deadlines, you will receive all the points for those modules.
I’m registered for a traditional section of T109 in the fall semester but I’d like to switch into the online section (or vice versa). Can I make this switch?
Switching between the traditional and online sections is allowed only during the first week of the fall semester. Switching into the traditional section is subject to the availability of space, and to the approval of the instructor. You will be expected to complete all the requirements for the section into which you are moving; you will not receive any credit for any work that you did for the other class.
I’d like to take the online section of T109. Do I need to complete the MFO quizzes (or do anything else) before the class starts?
If you are registered for the online section of T109, watch your email in the days before the eight-week session starts for a few instructions. You do not need to take the MFO quizzes before the class starts. The quizzes will be the first official work you do for the class, after the informational meeting.
I’m taking the online section of T109, but I’m worried that I will do poorly on the in-person exams because taking an exam on paper is very different from the work we’re doing online.
Practice exams, featuring questions very similar to those on the actual exams, will be made available in advance to students in the online section of T109.
Will the exams in the online section of T109 cover material from all modules of MFO, including modules that I tested out of?
Yes. For this reason, it is a good idea to spend some time working on all the modules of MFO, even if you are not required to complete some of them because of your performance on the quizzes. For practice, you can always go back and do further work on any module that you have completed.
I’m interested in taking the online section of T109, but I have a schedule conflict with the informational meeting and/or the exams. What can I do?
Contact the course instructor with a description of your situation. If you do not know who the instructor is, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are any other music theory classes besides T109 offered online?
Currently T109 is the only theory class offered online at IU.