Music Auditions and Scholarships

Making that first impression

Okay, so I am going to jump right into this. The first thing that you need to consider when preparing yourself for a music audition is your appearance. I know that this is not the most important aspect of your audition, but if you do not make a positive impression on the judges they may overlook your audition material to a certain degree. Although, I have never been an actual judge I have auditioned many times on my saxophone as well as watch others do it as well. And so I have two lists of things you should and should not do to help you along.


What you should do:

  • Wear appropriate clothing - Men should wear a full suit, button up shirt, and tie. Ladies should wear something nice enough that they could perform on stage in it. If you consider it like a classical performance, then you should be okay. Also, sometimes the different schools or organizations will suggest the appropriate attire. If you are unsure, ask questions or wear your Sunday best.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare before setting up an audition time and date.
  • Smile and keep it positive even you mess up. Don't bring attention to yourself but keep moving on.
  • When you first arrive introduce yourself and tell the judges the name of the piece and composer that you are going to play for them. Usually auditions will tell you what types of pieces and scales they are looking for. For my university auditions I have prepared major and minor harmonic scales, the chromatic scale, and two prepared pieces by Ferling. One piece was lyrical and showcased my musicianship and the other was technical. They usually preferred two different styles.
  • Plan what you will say, do, and perform. Read their website or official letter for more information on what is required.
  • Look the judges in the eye. Stay calm and relaxed. They are trying to help you receive money.
  • Thank the committee or judges for their time. Don't rush out the room.
  • Always be prepared. Bring extra copies of your music for the judges.

What you should NOT do:

  • Never use degrading remarks about yourself or excuses. Judges hate these. Things like, "I have not warmed up yet." or "Nobody told me..."
  • Don't change your mind the last minute which pieces you are going to play. This should be common sense, but many students get nervous and think they have to do something different. You should have everything planned in advance...stick to it!
  • Do not leave your music or instrument at home.
  • Do not ask someone else to use their instrument.
  • Do not wear inappropriate clothing such as shorts, ball caps, t-shirts, etc.
  • Do not apologize for mistakes made during the audition.
  • Do not draw attention to performance problems. (Sometimes the judges may not have noticed! Even if they did they want to see that you moved on without a lot of fanfare.)


Good luck!

I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful!  Let me know if there are any other things that have worked for you and I will add them.  Good luck on your future auditions and as the Boy Scout motto says, "Be Prepared!"

-J.P. Dennis

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nflagator 5 years ago from North Florida

Very nice. I was recently asked to Chair a committee this year for a music competition that takes place annually in my rural community. Finding qualified judges will be hard for me.

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