PRAXIS II Music: Content Knowledge Exam

This exam is designed for individuals who would like to teach music in grades K-12. You will be given two hours to complete this 120 question multiple choice exam that will have a 85 minute non-listing section and a 35 minute listening section. The test can be broken down into the following sections:
Music History and Literature – 9 listening questions and 9 non-listening questions
Theory and Composition – 9 listening questions and 10 non-listening questions
Performance – 12 listening questions and 15 non-listening questions
Pedagogy, Professional Issues, and Technology – 56 non-listening questions

Music History and Literature
Questions in this section of the exam will assess your knowledge of the history of major developments in musical style and the significant characteristics of important musical styles and historical periods. It will also test your familiarity with the style of a variety of world musics and their function in the culture of origin.

Pedagogy, Professional Issues, and Technology
Questions in the section of the exam will assess your knowledge of classroom management, musical classroom technology, selection of instrumental and vocal material for students, student evaluation, active, affective, and psychomotor development, musical concepts, and objectives of the musical curriculum.

Performance
Questions this section of the exam will assess your knowledge of listening and performance errors, acoustics, rehearsal facilities, conducting, reading scores, synthesizers and electronic media, vocal production, and musical instruments.

Theory and Composition
This section of the exam will assess your knowledge of melodies, rhymes, scales, cords, intervals, tempo, articulation, rhythm, harmony, scale, pitch, and compositional organization.

PRAXIS II Music: Content Knowledge Practice Questions

1. Aesthetic perception is the ability to understand what qualities about fine art?

A. Nature
B. Beauty
C. Validity
D. All of the above

2. Music is a universal language because it:

A. transcends ideology
B. combines sound and silence
C. reflects an era
D. organizes sound

3. The major elements of music include:

A. melody and pitch
B. rhythm and harmony
C. consonance and dissonance
D. All of the above

4. Which of the following is not a music term?

A. Acoustics
B. Beat
C. Aesthetics
D. Impresario

5. Understanding music requires studying:

A. cultures and historical events
B. the totality of a composer’s work
C. religious influences when written
D. All of the above

Answer Key For Music: Content Knowledge

1. Answer: D

Aesthetics is the area of philosophy that studies the nature and expression of beauty and people’s instinctive reaction to the fine arts. In Kantian philosophy, aesthetics is the part of metaphysics that studies the laws of perception. Perception is the memory of an awareness and interpretation previously learned through the senses, especially sight and sound. It is knowledge gained through insight and intuition.

Aesthetic perception is the ability to appreciate and understand the nature, beauty, and validity of the fine arts, including music, painting, sculpture, theater, drama, comedy, and literature. A person who is especially sensitive to beauty and consistently exhibits good taste as defined by the prevailing concept of the fine arts is said to have aesthetic perception. The English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead observed, “Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” (Dialogues, June 10, 1943.)

2. Answer: A

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines music as “the art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, rhythm, and timbre; an aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds.” All musical compositions have a defined organization of sound and silence. The Father of Electronic Music, American composer Edgard Varese, called music “organized sound.”

Music, like all fine art, is subjective and reflects the historical era and particular culture from which it emerges. There is a wide range of music genres from classical and jazz to country and rock to religious and patriotic, to name a few, and each one’s appeal is dependent upon the social context in which it is written and heard.

Music is a unique language that communicates moods, emotions, thoughts, and impressions. It can be philosophical, sexual, political, or nonsensical, but it has a story to tell and a message to convey. Because music has the ability to communicate across cultural barriers and transcend ideology, it is sometimes called “the universal language.”

3. Answer: D

Music theory studies the mechanics of making music and how the various elements work together to create the resulting “organized sound.” It is a system for analyzing, classifying, and composing. It defines the relationship of bringing together the various elements in written form (the composition) and the actual live performance of the piece.

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines the elements of music as:

MELODY: a rhythmic sequence of related notes in a particular structure
PITCH: the high or low frequency vibration of a tone in a series of sounds
RHYTHM: a regular, specific pattern of notes of different length and emphasis
HARMONY: the simultaneous structure, progression, and relationship of chords
CONSONANCE: a combination of sounds whose tones complement each other
DISSONANCE: a combination of tones that create a jarring interaction of sounds
DYNAMICS: the variation in force or intensity, i.e., the softness or loudness of a sound
TEXTURE: the structure of a composition, i.e., the relationship between the parts of the piece

4. Answer: C

These definitions of musical terms are from The New York Public Library Desk Reference:

A CAPPELLA: choral music without instrumental accompaniment, translation “in the church style”
ACOUSTICS: the quality of sound (intensity, resonance, tone, etc.) produced in an enclosed space
BEAT: to count a unit of rhythm or time with respect to accent
CADENCE: progression of chords moving to a rest point or a close
CHORD: combination of three or more concordant tones played at the same time
CLEF: a symbol showing the pitch of a particular line on the staff in relation to other pitches
ETUDE: an exercise in a particular point of technique
IMPRESARIO: the producer, conductor, or manager of an opera or concert company
INTERVAL: the difference in pitch between two notes
METER: a grouping of beats into a unit of measure or bars

5. Answer: D

Studying music means learning about the composition, performance, reception, and criticism of music, how various cultures and historical events contributed to its diversity, and how it has evolved over the centuries. Music history considers composers’ lives and the totality of their work, what musicians and instruments were available, how and why styles and genres developed, the place music has in society at a particular time, and the way the piece was performed when it was created.

A listener should have some knowledge of the composer, his culture, the socioeconomic and political situation, and religious influences at the time the piece was composed because all these factors can impact the meaning of and reason for the composition. Music history considers the relationship of the lyrics (words) and the music, how and why they work together, how the piece reflects the society from which it emerged, and its relevance in the current environment. It is also interesting to note how the impact of a composition can vary depending upon the particular situation of the audience.