James Madison University School of Music

Undergraduate Audition Guidelines


Audition Guidelines by Area


All voice students are required to present two selections of contrasting style with a comfortable level of difficulty. These selections should be of classical nature, either art songs or arias, and one must be in a foreign language. An audition specifically intended to qualify for the music theater program may include one selection from a Broadway musical. Pop and/or folk songs are not acceptable for an audition for any vocal concentration.

Vocalists must sing with a live accompanist at the piano. Taped accompaniments are not acceptable. Singers may bring their own accompanists, which is most desirable, or they may opt to request an accompanist. If a JMU accompanist is requested, rehearsal time will not be available, and singers must provide copies of the music at the audition. Vocalists may be asked to sight sing as part of the audition.

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Instrumental students must prepare a minimum of two selections of contrasting styles and character that will demonstrate their technical and musical ability. These selections should be of a classical nature such as the standard solo repertoire listings on the state and national level, grade IV or above. Other comparable works are acceptable, such as movements of a sonata or concerto, or a classical etude. Memorization is not required. Students should be prepared to perform various scales and/or arpeggios. Instrumentalists may bring their own accompanist or perform without accompaniment.

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Percussionists should perform a prepared solo on snare drum (or multiple percussion that includes snare-drum technique) and keyboard (marimba, xylophone or vibes) and will be asked to sight-read on snare drum and marimba. A tympani solo is optional. If you want to show expertise on drum set, please bring a tape or CD of you performing with any ensemble to the audition.

Visit the percussion website at http://jmupercussion.com

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All piano students must prepare a minimum of two contrasting selections that will demonstrate their technical and musical ability. Pieces should be at the level of Beethoven, Mozart or Haydn sonatas; Bach preludes and fugues; and similarly representative works from the 19th and 20th century. Memorization is encouraged. Students should be prepared to play various scales and/or arpeggios. All auditioning piano students must provide a thorough repertoire list that will be placed in the candidate's file. Students interested in Jazz studies must perform piano literature that includes both jazz and classical styles.

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The purpose of the audition is to evaluate musicianship, disposition and the ability to play classical guitar, weighed against the standards and needs of the School of Music. To make the audition a useful means of evaluation, it is of utmost importance that students choose pieces they can play well and that are well within their musical and technical abilities. Students are required to perform three pieces of classical guitar literature on a nylon-string instrument. Each selection must be chosen from a different style period (Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic or 20th century). Pieces selected must demonstrate the following techniques: slurs, arpeggios and scales.

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Harp students should perform two contrasting solos and one standard
orchestra excerpt of choice.


In addition to a required applied area audition described above, students who wish to gain entrance into the composition program must also submit two new musical works and request a composition interview on their admission application.

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All clarinetists MUST play his/her audition on B-flat soprano clarinet. Please DO NOT audition on e-flat, bass clarinet or contra-bass clarinet or prepare any repertoire for these instruments. The B-flat soprano clarinet will be the primary instrument of study in the clarinet curriculum. Audition repertoire for B-flat soprano clarinet will consist of the following: All major scales in two octaves, three octaves where appropriate (ex: F, G, E and F-sharp Major), ascending/descending chromatic scale beginning on low E through altissimo G, two contrasting pieces one demonstrating slow, lyrical playing and one demonstrating technical agility. Appropriate etudes would be selections from the Rose 32 or 40 etudes; Appropriate solo repertoire: C. M. Weber: Concertino for clarinet op. 26, Concerto no. 1 in f-minor, Mozart: Clarinet Concerto K. 622, Finzi: Five Bagtelles or similarly standard concerti, sonatas, or solo works for clarinet.

Audition Dates

Submit your audition application form online or directly to the School of Music.

January 24, 2015 January 16, 2015
February 7, 2015 January 30, 2015
February 16, 2015 February 9, 2015

The student auditioning on one of the three scheduled audition dates will complete an audition, a piano placement examination and a music aptitude test. The piano placement examination has no bearing on the outcome of the audition. The results are used for class placement only. Applicants should follow audition guidelines for their own specific area of performance. Applicants living a great distance from the university may substitute a high-quality taped performance for the live audition, however a recorded audition will not be considered for scholarship awards. Audition tapes will be returned only if a stamped, self-addressed envelope is provided by the student. The School of Music encourages live auditions whenever possible.

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