Skip to Content

School of Music


Graduate Audition Information

All applicants for graduate music programs requiring applied studies are to complete an on-campus audition in their major area as part of the application process. The audition usually takes no more than 20 minutes, with the audition committee selecting portions of the applicant’s audition repertory. You may submit an audition recording for provisional admittance if distance precludes travel to campus; the applicant must complete an on-campus audition, however, before initial registration.

Students may submit high quality audio CD recordings or video recordings in DVD format. Each audio or video box should contain the name, address and performance area of the applicant and a list of compositions performed and the date of the recording. Recordings cannot be returned by mail unless return postage is provided.

An applicant should submit to the university all necessary application materials (including a repertory list and copies of recital programs) at least two weeks before the audition date. It is especially important that the audition form included with the application packet be completed and returned to the School of Music before the audition. When necessary, an accompanist will be provided for voice auditions. Priority for graduate assistantships will be given to those who have auditioned by March 7.

2014-15 School Of Music audition schedule

Coming soon.

Click to download the Graduate Audition Form.

COMPOSITION
a.  Bachelor's degree for Master's admission; Master's degree for DMA admission. Applicants must demonstrate experience and promise as a composer through the submission of scores, recordings, and a list of performances.
b.  Two or three compositions that display an understanding of different media; if possible, include complete recordings (CD or DVD preferred; MIDI realizations discouraged).
c.  A resume or curriculum vitae that includes a typed summary of educational and professional experience.
d.  A list of completed compositions that includes the following information: date of composition, duration, instrumentation, and a list of all performances.
e.  A sample of your writing in the form of a published article or term paper.
f.  A brief, 1-2 page essay outlining your goals, ambitions, and interests as a composer, as well as what you hope to accomplish while at USC.

Note for Master's Applicants
Applicants without a Bachelor's degree in music must take either the Music GRE or Graduate Music Diagnostic Examination before admission. Applicants with deficiencies in music theory, orchestration, score reading, counterpoint, keyboard skills, or conducting will be required to remedy those deficiencies. Necessary courses will be determined by the student's academic advisor before the student enters the program via the results of the Graduate Music Diagnostic Examination. It is important to understand that these courses must be completed in addition to the normal requirements for the degree, and that all such courses must be completed before the student registers for MUSC 799. (For example, a student required to take basic orchestration may not count that course toward the completion of the music theory or free electives requirement.) In the event that a necessary course is not offered before the end of a candidate's second year, additional arrangements must be made with the candidate's academic and thesis advisors.

CONDUCTING

Master's applicants: At least three works (or movements of works) of varied style and mood.

Doctoral applicants: Preliminary audition (video recording due by Feb 15) should include at least three major works (or movements of works) of varied style and mood recorded in a rehearsal or live performance (preferably with the camera facing the conductor). NOTE: Wind conducting candidates must submit recordings by JANUARY 15. Final audition (by invitation) - On-campus; repertory to be determined.

GUITAR

At least four compositions from different style periods (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary) that demonstrate tone, technique, and musical proficiency. Considerable flexibility will be permitted in the choice of literature when stylistic areas seem to overlap. The following may serve as a guide:

  • A work by J.S. Bach
  • A sonata (or movement of a sonata) or a set of variations
  • A major 20th century work
  • One composition of the applicant?s choice

Except for an avant-garde works, all compositions should be performed from memory.

JAZZ PERFORMANCE

Play and improvise in at least three different jazz idioms (Swing, BeBop, Cool, Fusion, etc.) and perform one work from the "classical" repertory.

ORGAN

  • One major work by J.S. Bach (such as a Prelude and Fugue or a trio sonata)
  • One work each from the 19th and 20th centuries
  • One work of the applicant?s choice

OPERA PERFORMANCE

By invitation only after admission to the MM-voice program, on-campus audition consisting of two contrasting arias or solo scenes, one of which should be staged.

OPERA STAGE DIRECTING

By invitation only, an analytical presentation of an opera for production that includes information on the composer and librettist, with period and historical references, character analysis, set and costume concepts, and comments on the musical style; presentation of an impromptu movement audition.

PERCUSSION

Prospective Students must audition in ALL THREE areas listed below to be considered for admission into the percussion program. The lists below contain suggested repertoire, but the student is not limited to this material. Other solos or etudes that show a similar level of technical and musical achievement may also be used for auditions.

Snare Drum:
One concert-style solo from one of the following books:

  • Twelve Studies for Snare Drum by Jaques Delecluse
  • Advanced Studies for Snare Drum by Mitchell Peters,
  • Advanced Etudes for Snare Drum by Keith Aleo.
In addition, prospective graduate students should also choose two excepts from the standard orchestral repertoire. These may include, but are not limited to:
  • Scheherazade (Mvt. III and IV) by Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Lt. Kije Suite by Prokofiev
  • Symphony #10 by Shostakovich.

Keyboard Percussion:
One four-mallet work for marimba. Appropriate selections would include, but are not limited to:

  • Two Mexican Dances by Gordon Stout
  • Two Movements for Marimba by Toshimitsu Tanaka
  • Virgina Tate by Paul Smadbeck
  • Caritas by Michael Burritt
In addition, prospective graduate students should also choose two excerpts from the standard orchestra repertoire. These may include, but are not limited to:
  • Porgy and Bess by Gershwin
  • Overture to Colas Breugnon by Kabalevsky
  • Polka from the Golden Age Ballet by Shostakovich

Timpani:
One appropriate solo or etude. Selections may include but are not limited to:

  • Eight Pieces for Timpani by Elliott Carter
  • Raga # 1 by William Cahn

In addition, prospective graduate students should also choose one excerpt from the orchestral repertoire of Beethoven or Tchaikovsky.

PIANO AND PIANO PEDAGOGY

Applicants for MM degrees should prepare a program 30 minutes in length; for DMA degrees, 45 minutes is needed. The audition program should feature works in contrasting styles from the standard literature. Except for avant-garde works, all compositions should be performed from memory.

STRINGS

At least four compositions from different style periods (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th century) that demonstrate musical maturity and technique:

  • One movement from a major concerto
  • A major sonata
  • A work (or movement of work) composed before 1750
  • One composition of the applicant?s choice

One of the works should be performed from memory, and one must be an unaccompanied work.


Graduate - (MM & DMA)

  • Piccolo piece of choice (one movement only - Fasch, Tartini, Torelli, Corelli, Telemann, Richter, et al.)
  • Longinotti Etude No. 7
  • Haydn or Hummel Trumpet Concerto (Mvts. I-II)
  • Tomasi Trumpet Concerto (Mvt. I)
  • Choice of unaccompanied solo trumpet work (Intrada, Solus, Cascades, Postcards, et al.)
  • Orchestral Excerpts:  Mahler 5 (opening), Petroushka (Ballerina Dance), Pictures (opening), Pines (offstage), Beethoven Leonore Call (Nos. 2 & 3)

Audition duration is approx. 20-25 minutes. Sightreading and scales may be asked.

TRUMPET

Graduate - (MM & DMA)

  • Piccolo piece of choice (one movement only - Fasch, Tartini, Torelli, Corelli, Telemann, Richter, et al.)
  • Longinotti Etude No. 7
  • Haydn or Hummel Trumpet Concerto (Mvts. I-II)
  • Tomasi Trumpet Concerto (Mvt. I)
  • Choice of unaccompanied solo trumpet work (Intrada, Solus, Cascades, Postcards, et al.)
  • Orchestral Excerpts:  Mahler 5 (opening), Petroushka (Ballerina Dance), Pictures (opening), Pines (offstage), Beethoven Leonore Call (Nos. 2 & 3)

Audition duration is approx. 20-25 minutes. Sightreading and scales may be asked.


VOICE

  • One art song from each of the following periods: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th century
  • One aria (from an oratorio or opera) sung in the original language
  • The following languages should be represented: English, French, German, Italian

Except for an avant-garde works, all compositions should be performed from memory.

WIND INSTRUMENTS

At least four significant compositions (or movements) of contrasting styles. The works should demonstrate a mature grasp of phrasing, tone, contemporary techniques, articulation, and general technique. Memorization is not required.