Ways to Prepare for a College Music Audition

If you actively pursued music activities in high school, you may be able to earn merit-based music scholarships in college.

Music scholarships can add a significant amount of financial aid to your financial aid award. When you have an interest to continue participation in music at the collegiate level it can be well worth your time to investigate opportunities to audition. Your college experience can be enriched by participation in music and a scholarship to do so is an added bonus.

Taking time on the front side to determine how each institution handles the audition process can help everything go as smoothly as possible. The following list of questions can help families contemplate if scholarship auditions should be pursued as well as considerations to address before taking the next step.  

  • Do you need to major/minor in music in order to be considered? Some schools require participation without needing to major. In this case you can benefit both financially and experientially from music while majoring in another area.
  • Does the music scholarship combine with other scholarships, and is it renewable? In many cases this will be a "yes" which is preferable but do confirm this with each school.
  • What are the requirements when accepting a music award? Typically, students on a music scholarship can expect to play or sing in an ensemble as well as take an individual applied lesson in their instrument area.

Considerations as you prepare to audition:   

  • Determine the overall audition structure at each institution. Is there a preliminary step before authorization for the actual audition is given? Check into the registration process. What sort of timeline should you plan for? Depending on the school there can be very limited date options while others have a lot of flexibility. Do materials need to be sent in advance of the audition? Finally, is there an advantage to auditioning earlier in the season or disadvantages to auditioning later?
  • Find out what you can expect during the audition. The format can be structured differently from school to school. Check to see if the audition is for a department panel or one-on-one with a faculty member. Understanding in advance what you will encounter helps!
  • Figure out what to prepare. Institutions have different requirements but most details can be found online quickly. Ask current music teachers for suggestions on specific selections but here are some general preparation pointers:

    "”Be confidently prepared. This takes time and effort but hands down is a major part of the equation. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to come to your audition knowing the material you are presenting.

    "”Difficulty of piece. Select the level of material based on your current musicianship skills, not where you think you should be. What selections showcase your strengths as a musician? Choose these pieces for your audition. Consider using music previously learned if it meets the criteria.

    "”Know the composer and research the history of the piece. Singers, be sure you understand the text and can discuss what the song is about. This in-depth study allows you to connect to the music more deeply and express it more effectively.

    "”Trust yourself and your work. The audition is your time to shine. Remember the hard work has been done! Focus on letting the representatives you meet see YOU. The work you have done will be evident. The goal is not to be mistake free, but rather to exhibit your best understanding, skill and expression of the music you have learned.

Yes, auditions can feel overwhelming at times, however there is potential for significant reward. The process is also in place for you and your family to experience an important connection with faculty and the music department. Auditioning should give you a taste of what being a music student at this institution would be like and ultimately figure out if this is the school for you!