What is a College Music Audition Like?

I’m guessing anyone who hasn’t been through a college music audition process doesn’t know what it’s like. Neither did I, until about two days ago. Now that I know, I want to share what it is like for anyone who might be wondering.

I auditioned as a vocalist, which from what I have heard from my brother (who auditioned some years ago as a pianist) is a little different than auditioning as a instrumentalist. In his audition they had him sing a major scale and some other things to test his voice and his ear; I did not have to do this since my primary audition was a singing audition anyway. My audition was in two parts: the theory/aural assessment, and the vocal audition. I took the theory/aural exam first.

Four parts of the test were over theory. They covered rhythm, note names, intervals, triads and seventh chords spellings, and writing out major and minor scales. All of it was information that any first-semester theory student should be familiar with, but there were several aspects that made it difficult. On the note naming, nearly all of the notes which I was asked to name were way below or way above the staff, sometimes on the tenor or alto clef. On the interval testing, instead of asking for an interval above a ‘C’ or some other common note, it would ask for something like a ‘minor second above an A double sharp’, adding the double sharp, or in some cases double flats, just to make it difficult. It did a similar thing with the scales, asking for weird scales like E# melodic minor. On top of all of this was the time limit, probably the part of the test which made it the most difficult. The time was very limited, sometimes giving you only an average of a few seconds for each question.

There was only one section to the aural part of the test. It was fifteen minutes long, which was plenty of time to complete it. It tested ability to correctly hear the difference between major and minor scales, the difference between major and minor melodies, chord progressions, rhythms, and intervals. For anyone who has had any ear training or plays piano, it would most likely not be too difficult.

The second part of my audition was the vocal audition. It was much like any singing audition: you go in, you sing, you may be asked a few questions, and then you leave. The only difference between this and most auditions I have done is that I also had to do a short section of sight reading. In most cases, all of the faculty for whatever instrument you are auditioning on will be there, so depending on your instrument, there might be half a dozen professors there or only one. In my case all the professors were very warm and welcoming, and the atmosphere was very relaxed, yet professional. This will of course vary from school to school, with some schools having a much more intense, daunting atmosphere.

So there you have it, my college audition experience. I am sure there is a great variance from school to school and instrument to instrument, but nevertheless, I hope someone finds this helpful if they are wondering what a college music audition is like.


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