When you first apply to music school, you likely will be asked to submit a prescreening recording along with your official application. The purpose of the recording is to evaluate your musical ability and to determine whether or not you will be offered a chance to formally audition for the program.

What Should I Perform?

Each music school has its own requirements for prescreening recordings, so you will need to record something specific for each application you submit. The length of recordings will vary, but most will be between 10 and 15 minutes.

If you are a vocal student:

  • You may be asked to sing scales: diatonic major scale, harmonic minor scale, and whole tone scale.
  • You may be asked to sing songs in English, as well as French, German, and Italian.
  • You may need to sing the same song a cappella and accompanied.

If you are playing a specific instrument, you may be asked to play excerpts from certain classical music pieces, such as:

  • Strauss, Don Juan, 1st page
  • Wagner, Tannhauser, Overture – letter K to 37mm. after K
  • Brahms, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, var. 5, 7, & 8
  • Mozart, Haffner, 4th movement, beginning to A; m. 134 to letter E
  • Ravel, Daphnis and Chloe, Suite No. 2, 2nd page
  • Ravel, Daphnis and Chloe, Suite No. 2, solo only
  • Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 4, 1st movement – mm. 218-269
  • Beethoven, Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72, complete
  • Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf, complete
  • Strauss, Salome, Dance of the Seven Veils, two bars before “D” through three bars after “H”
  • Stravinsky, The Firebird Suite (1919), Variation

You may also need to choose your own performance pieces to meet requirements, such as selecting three works from contrasting periods or the first movement of a standard concerto with applicable cadenzas.


Editing Your Recording

Careful editing of your recording can help make sure that it best showcases your talents. If you have no experience in this area, consider hiring a freelance editor. Your music teacher may be able to recommend someone to assist you. If not, you can try checking at the nearest college for a student who is experienced in audio or video editing.

Pay close attention to the formatting options for submitting your recording. For audio files, the preferred format is usually an mp3 file. For video, however, you may be asked to submit files as .m4v, .mp4, .mpg, .mvb, .swf, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .flv, or .mov files. Most schools now prefer that recordings be submitted online, but some will still ask for a physical CD or DVD.

Remember to keep copies of all recordings that you submit as part of your application process. You may need to refer to them if you are asked to audition for the school’s program.

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