Mentoring Monday: Ensemble Auditions

Ensemble Auditions

Rebekah Powell, School of Music Mentor

Being a Music Major, it is inevitable that you will have to audition for either a band or a choir ensemble in the school of music, as it is a requirement for you to be in one of the major band or choir ensembles (other than Marching band) for at least 7 semesters of your college life. This audition, band or choir, may seem nerve-wracking at first, but this article is here to tell you how the audition process works, for both band and choir, and some tips to help you be prepared and successful in your first audition and the many more to come at your time here at WCU!

For Instrumentalists

  • Prepare the music in advance. You will get the music through an email you receive a few weeks out from class starting. Don’t wait until the last minute!
  • Practice your Scales, Sight-Reading, and other Skills! Professors in the auditions, depending on what they want to hear, will most likely ask for these things, so don’t just practice your piece given, freshen yourself up on your basic skills as well!
  • Sign up for an audition time that you think you will be the best at! Sign put sheets go out during band camp or the week before so try to get there early! Most auditions are grouped by Instrument so figure out a good time during the time slot of your instrument that you think you can play best at! Also, come early to your audition time, about 5-10 minutes prior. DON’T BE LATE!!
  • For those in Marching Band, Warm down after the week is over and rest your chops! You will be playing a lot during the week of band camp, and if you don’t warm down properly or rest at all, then it may affect your audition. Still look over the music and keep it fresh in your mind, but take a bit of a break from playing, and save your chops for the audition!
  • Warm up, but don’t overdo it! The morning or afternoon of the audition get a good solid warm up in! Be sure you are good and ready to play for your audition but don’t warm up too much or it could affect your audition. If you feel warmed up, rest yourself until the audition!
  • Fill out the forms! When you get to you audition you will receive a form that you put your name, instrument, and grade level, and major. Also it will ask you to list the ensembles (Concert Band, Wind Symphony, Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble) in the order of preference of which ones you want to be in, as well as a section to list class-related conflicts you have with any of the ensembles. You will give it to the person who brings you into the room.
  • Dress Professionally! This is very important. This is the first impression that your professors (most likely your private teacher as well as the director of your ensemble you are placed in will be in that audition room) will get of you! Dress as if you are going into an interview!
    • For Guys- Button Up shirt or nice collared shirt (Tie optional). Dress pants, dress shoes. NO SNEAKERS OR JEANS!
    • For Girls- Nice Shirt with dress pants or skirt or a dress. Dress shoes, NO SNEAKERS OR JEANS!!!

Try to look nice, but at the same time, try to dress comfortably. For girls, if you don’t feel like you can wear heels while you play, wear flats instead. For guys if you feel a necktie will be too much, then just go without it! If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good you play well

  • Be Prepared for Anything! Every audition is different depending on the professors in there. Some do their auditions blind, whereas others face you while you play. Some ask for scales, some ask for sight-reading, some ask for both or none at all! They may ask you to play the entire piece you prepared or only a portion of it! It is only a 3-5 minute audition, but be prepared for anything they throw your way!
  • RELAX! The people in your audition want nothing more than for you to succeed and try to keep a relaxed atmosphere in the audition room. Don’t stress out about the little things. It’s just an audition! Just go into that audition room and play it the best you can!

For Piano and Vocal Majors

  • Look out for emails! There is an email sent out letting you know when the auditions are for Choir Ensembles. They are usually during the first week of classes, and they will give you a time to sign up usually a week or 2 before.
  • Sign up for a good time!- Choir Auditions happen in the afternoon/evening times. Make sure you sign up for a time that you feel you can sing your best at! Also, show up 5-10 minutes prior to you audition as to not be late!
  • Fill out the forms- like the band audition, you will receive forms that you must fill out and give to the professors. It consists of filling out your name, Major, Voice Part, and a section to check off which groups you are interested in auditioning for (Concert Choir, Mastersingers, Cantari Donne, Men’s or Women’s Chorus). If you are not interested in singing or cannot sing in that ensemble due to a class conflict, do NOT check that group off. Also, it will ask you your preference by putting numbers (1 being most preferred) into which ensemble you would most like to sing in.
  • Dress Comfortably- It is not required for you to dress professionally, but still try to dress nicely and make a good impression!
  • The audition- The audition consists of Range testing (in case you do not know your voice part, they can judge you from this portion), Pitch Memorization (they play a series of pitches then you have to sing them back, and they add on one more pitch each time they play it, almost like Simon says, they will record the number of pitches you could memorize, up to 12 pitches) and Sight- Reading. The professors usually face you and consist of the directors of the choir ensembles, and they will be facing you. They generally tell you which ensemble they feel you are most likely going to be in, but they official list goes up in the middle of the week.



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