Preparing for Your Music School Audition

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

If you've ever performed in a play or musical, then you're probably familiar with sweating through an audition. Even if you're not, pursuing a degree from a music school, dance school, or theater colleges will probably require you to endure at least one.

However, auditions for college admission at a performing arts school may be a bit different from auditions for high school or community music events. You can expect more competitiveness, more seriousness, and an expectation that you possess a certain degree of talent.

It's important to prepare for your music audition, so whatever your specialty, here are some practical tips for nailing a stellar music performance and knocking the admission committee off their feet.

Music school vocal auditions

  • Prepare at least two pieces in contrasting styles, including one in a foreign language, if possible
  • Opt for operatic, show music, or art song selections
  • Memorize each piece
  • Try to bring a familiar accompanist to the audition, if permitted


Music school instrumental auditions

  • Prepare to play scales and arpeggios, at least one etude or technical study, and a solo work
  • Instrumental pieces don't need to be memorized but you may have to sight-read


General advice for your performing arts school audition

  • When you're performing sight-read music, take time to look over the piece and make sure you understand the key and time signatures before proceeding
  • Ask for help from teachers as you prepare for your college audition
  • Try to acquire audition information ahead of time
  • Know more than is required for the audition
  • Select your audition time and date early
  • If you haven't already, get involved in high school performances


What music programs are looking for at the college audition
Music departments usually want you to demonstrate technical competence and performance achievement but each program is different. Call the college and ask for specifics about their music audition requirements. It's a good idea to audition with at least 3 colleges (but no more than 5) to amplify your opportunities. This can definitely ring true for instrumental performers, especially those aiming to study with a renowned musician who teaches a certain instrument.

If you feel like you could have done better, some music colleges may allow you to audition a second time. Ideally, you'll be accepted into the school you really want, but it's possible that you won't make the cut. If that's the case, remain upbeat and decide if you want to pursue a music program at another college or consider a different major.

Talent and hard work can make a difference
Some degree of talent is typically required for admission into a specialized college, such as a dance school, art school, or music college, but it's also important to remember that you should not rely solely on your talent or think that your talent is not strong enough. Hard work, practice, and effort can make a difference in the admissions process.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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