Piano Proficiency

Miami University Department of Music requires every undergraduate student pursuing a degree in music to fulfill a piano proficiency requirement. The requirement was established according to the guidelines provided by NASM (National Association of School of Music), a national association that gives accreditation to college music program in the United States.

There are two ways for music students at Miami University to fulfill their piano proficiency requirement:

  1. Piano Proficiency Exam
    This comprehensive exam is offered two times in an academic year (once in each of the fall and spring semesters) in front of a committee of three music faculty members. It is designed for students who have advanced piano skills (at least six to eight years of solid piano training) prior to attending college. The exam may be attempted only once. The student must enroll in the Functional Piano Program if he or she does not pass the exam. Incoming students, who are interested in taking this exam instead of piano class, are required to audition for Dr. Tan at the beginning of their first semester of study at Miami University to gain permission to take the exam. Students are not offered the choices of either taking the piano proficiency exam or class piano. They have to request permission to take the exam. Otherwise, they have to sign up for one of the piano classes. The students who receive permission to take the piano proficiency exam must take the exam during their first year of study at Miami University. Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in a forfeiture of permission to fulfill the piano proficiency requirement by examination. Interested students should contact Dr. Siok Lian Tan (tansl@MiamiOH.edu; phone 513-529-3072; office CPA 240) during the first week of classes in fall semester to schedule an audition.
  2. Functional Piano Classes
    This is a 2-year course sequence designed for music students with no piano background or students with limited piano experience prior to attending college. Students will fulfill their piano proficiency requirement once they have successfully completed MUS 260-261 and passed the final/exit exam. Materials covered in this course sequence include technique, repertoire, harmonization, transposition, score reading, sight reading, improvisation, and ensemble playing.

We offer four levels of piano classes in alternating semesters

Piano Classes Offered
Course # Level Offered
MUS 160 Beginning Fall
MUS 161 Elementary Spring
MUS 260 Early Intermediate  Fall
MUS 261 Intermediate Spring
  • Students with no or minimal keyboard experience should sign up for MUS 160.
  • Students with some keyboard experience should stop by CPA 240 to take a placement test from Dr. Tan during the first week of classes in order to be placed at the appropriate level of piano class.
  • Music Education students are encouraged to enroll in Functional Piano during their first year of study at Miami so that they can fulfill their piano proficiency requirement before they student teach in their senior year.


At the end of spring semester, all class piano students from MUS 161 are required to pass the final exam in order to move on to MUS 260 in the following year.* Students from MUS 261 are required to pass the final/exit exam in order to fulfill their piano proficiency requirement. If a student does not pass the MUS 261 final/exit exam, he or she would receive an “F” for the course and is required to take MUS 261 again.

These exams are given in two parts. The first part is given one week before the last week of classes with just the class instructor present, and the second part is administered during the final exam week in front of the class instructor and Dr. Tan.

*All Bachelor of Arts in Music majors are only required to complete MUS 161 and pass the final exam to fulfill their piano proficiency requirement.