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School of Music

Graduate Audition Information

All applicants for graduate music programs with applied studies are required 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. Audition slots are limited for each audition day and on a first come, first served basis.  A prescreening audition is not required.  International students currently living outside the U.S. may submit an audition recording for provisional admittance.  However, an on-campus audition is required before initial registration.

Applicants in the conducting areas should not reserve an audition slot, but instead submit high quality video recordings in DVD format or email a link to a video recording to Music Graduate Admissions ( Each submission should contain the name, address and performance area of the applicant and a list of compositions performed and the date of the recording.  Once recordings have been reviewed, conducting applicants will be invited to campus for a live audition and interview.

An applicant should submit all necessary application materials (including a repertory list and copies of recital programs) at least two weeks before the audition date.  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.

Register for Graduate Audition

2018-2019 School of Music Audition Schedule

Friday, December 7, 2018
*Piano only
Saturday, December 8, 2018
*All areas except piano
Saturday, January 26, 2019
*All areas
Saturday, February 2, 2019
*Guitar, strings and voice only
Saturday, February 16, 2019
*Brass, guitar, percussion, piano, voice and woodwinds only
*Band Clinic participants may audition while attending Band Clinic.
Saturday, February 23, 2019
*All areas except voice

All auditions are held on the UofSC campus in Columbia, SC.

Specific audition times, room numbers, and other pertinent information will be emailed to you the week leading up to the date you select on the Graduate Audition Form.

Audition and admission are required by March 7 for Graduate Assistantship consideration.

If needed, please contact faculty in your applied area to schedule a different date and time to audition.

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.


Master's CHORAL CONDUCTING applicants: At least three works (or movements of works) of varied style and mood.
Doctoral CHORAL CONDUCTING applicants: Preliminary audition (video recording due by January 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). 
Final audition (by invitation) - On-campus; repertory to be determined.

Master's and Doctoral Instrumental (Wind and Orchestral) applicants:
Pre-screening video (due by January 15): All instrumental conducting applicants must submit a pre-screening video of at least 20 minutes which includes conducting in both rehearsal and performance. For all videos, the camera should be placed at the back of the ensemble with the focus on the front of the conductor. Include the date(s) and name of the performing ensemble(s).
Final audition (by invitation) - On-campus; repertory to be determined.


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.


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


  • 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


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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

Graduate auditions are prescreened in the USC trumpet studio. Your video recording must be presented in a digital format through vimeo, youtube, or dropbox by Dec. 30 (please send link to Prof. James Ackley via email). Finalists will be chosen and invited to take part in a live audition (sometime between January & March). All finalist are considered for the TA position (if a TA position is available - please contact Prof. Ackley to see if a TA position is available in trumpet). Materials for both the video recording and the live audition must contain:

Masters audition requirements:

  • Longinotti Etude No. 7, complete
  • Haydn or Hummel Trumpet Concerto (Mvt. I, with cadenza)
  • Honegger Intrada
  • Orchestral Excerpts:  Mahler 5 (opening & lyrical solo - 1 before No. 13 through No. 14), Petroushka (Ballerina Dance), Pictures (opening), Pines of Rome (offstage), Leonore No. 3.  
  • DMA audition requirements:

DMA audition requirements:

  • Choice of a piccolo trumpet work (Mvt I only - Fasch, Tartini, Torelli, Corelli, Telemann, Richter, et al.)
  • Longinotti Etude No. 7, complete
  • Tomasi Trumpet Concerto (Mvt. I)
  • Honegger Intrada
  • Orchestral Excerpts: Mahler 5 (opening & lyrical solo - 1 before No. 13 through No. 14), Petroushka (Ballerina Dance), Pictures (opening), Pines of Rome (offstage), Leonore call No. 3.

Live audition durations are approx. 20-25 minutes in length. Sightreading and scales may be asked based on time allowed.  An "interview" may also be a part of the audition. No accompaniment required.


  • 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.


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.