The TExES Music EC – 12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine if an individual possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to teach music at any grade level in the Texas public school system. This exam assesses an individual’s ability to listen to various pieces of music and identify key features of the piece as well as the individual’s knowledge of music-related topics such as music composition, music culture, music history, music classroom performance, and music theory. This exam is required in order for an individual to become certified as an entry-level music teacher in the state of Texas. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Listening (25%)
- Music, Theory and Composition (17%)
- Music History and Culture (17%)
- Music Classroom Performance (25%)
- Music Education (17%)
During the listening portion of the exam, the exam-taker will listen to a group of musical pieces and will be presented with a series of questions related to each piece. The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The Music EC – 12 Exam is offered in a computerized format and the registration fee for the exam is $131. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level music teacher within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss aesthetic perception.
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. Aesthetic perception is the experience of a beautiful sensation, especially through sight and sound. Perception 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. Discuss creative expression.
Creativity is the ability to produce a work of art (music, painting, sculpture, comedy, drama, literature) that is original and imaginative. To express something is to convey an idea, an emotion, or an opinion, or to create a direct or indirect representation of an idea, emotion or opinion. The representation can be in words, sounds, pictures, gestures, signs and/or symbols. A person with a taste for creative expression has the burning need to bring forth a unique manifestation of his or her understanding and interpretation of mankind’s primal desires. A soaring music score by Beethoven, a memorable scene by Grandma Moses, a gentle poem by Emily Dickinson, and a moving performance by Sir Laurence Olivier are all examples of individual creative expression by artists of uncompromising vision. It should be noted, however, that every person is capable of creative expression.
3. Discuss the four types of theme used in all fine art.
The creative ideas presented in any type of media (visual, oral, or written) can be summarized in four basic types of theme. Through the ages, every tale ever told, written, or sung has dealt with one of these types of themes. The four types of theme are:
- UNIVERSAL THEMES encompass feelings, situations and characters that all people everywhere experience. It doesn’t matter what country, culture or age, every human being understands and relates to these themes.
- TIMELY THEMES are feelings, situations and characters that people have experienced throughout recorded history. Inhabitants of medieval times as well as Elizabethan England, and even the ancient Greek and Roman emperors, would relate just the same as the current population does.
- BROAD THEMES are supported by specific examples of feelings, situations, and characters that affect cultures, countries, and governments.
- SHARED THEMES connect diverse elements into an intricate mosaic that touches people everywhere, in every culture and every age.
4. Discuss the importance of themes in all art forms.
The four themes (universal, timely, broad, and shared) are important in all forms of art. Themes help the artist, musician, writer, sculptor or architect organize ideas and concepts into a coherent whole. They present a perspective beyond the individual and his own cultural experiences, and help him connect with people in other parts of the world who have a different perspective. It encourages understanding of the similarities in the human experience. Themes connect current events to history and enable readers, viewers and listeners to learn from the past. Since art’s function is to communicate, studying earlier works of art along with the history of the era in which they were created helps current society not only to understand past civilizations but to apply lessons learned long ago to contemporary issues.
5. Define music.
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, 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 always has a message to convey. Because music has the ability to communicate across cultural barriers and to transcend ideology, it is sometimes called “the universal language.”
6. Discuss music theory and define the major elements.
Music theory is the study of the mechanics of making music. It is a system for analyzing, classifying and composing; it defines the process of bringing together the various elements in written form (the composition) and the actual live performance of the piece.
These definitions for the elements of music are from The American Heritage College Dictionary:
- 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; that is, the relationship between the parts of the piece
7. Define these music terms: a cappella, acoustics, beat, cadence, chord, clef, etude, impresario, interval, meter.
These definitions are from The New York Public Library Desk Reference:
- A CAPPELLA: choral music without instrumental accompaniment; translated as “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, typically bars
8. Discuss the importance of music history.
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 examines 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 the prevalent religious influences at the time the piece was composed, because all of these factors can impact the interpretation of 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.
9. Discuss music in The Medieval Era, The Renaissance Period and The Baroque Era.
- During the MEDIEVAL ERA (800 to 1400 C.E.), the Catholic Church was the focus of life, learning and the fine arts. Pope Gregory (590 to 640 C.E.) was instrumental in the development of chants. Secular song was an important part of this era, although, unlike Gregorian Chant, little has been preserved.
- THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD (1400 to 1600 C.E.) saw the rebirth of humanism and the revival of achievement for its own sake. Artists and musicians moved away from the strict rules of the Medieval Era and produced works that reflected freedom and individualism. Church music was still important, but secular music became more common and, with the invention of new instruments, instrumental music grew in popularity.
- THE BAROQUE ERA (1600 to 1750 C.E.) produced highly intense, textured and ornate music with a rich counterpoint and melodic line. Unlike earlier works, this music expressed emotions and feelings, and emphasized a wide range of vocal and instrumental harmonies. Opera was developed in Italy during this time.
10. Discuss music in the Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras.
- THE CLASSICAL ERA (1750 to 1820 C.E.) produced a great change in music. During these years, there was great emphasis placed on clarity, expression, balance, restraint and instrumentation. Opera, sacred, and secular music were still being written, but pieces composed for orchestras began to dominate. As classical music developed, changes in form and phrase structure occurred, and cadence became more important.
- THE ROMANTIC ERA (1850 to 1920 C.E.) brought enormous change, and once again encouraged artistic freedom, experimentation and creativity. Nationalism was an important influence; folk music was used to express cultural identity. Use of dissonance became popular. Composers tried to coax new sounds from familiar instruments and found interesting ways to combine new and old instruments.
- THE MODERN ERA (1900 to the present) is difficult to define, but one adjective that comes to mind is rebellious. Twentieth century music is eclectic, expressive and incredibly creative. It has its own expression and orchestration; it has developed its own unique styles and improved earlier ones. Technology has had a huge impact on music by allowing and encouraging various ways to manipulate sound.