Music Schools That Don’t Require Auditions

Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by

Auditioning can be a stressful experience. Doug Long at Interlochen encourages students to visit their top two or three schools prior to the audition. Get a feel for the schools before audition day. Stop by the audition room to get a sense of the acoustics, as well as to find the nearest bathrooms and water fountains.

How to prepare for your conservatoire audition | Conservatoires | UCAS

Learn all you can about live versus recorded auditions. Consider pros and cons of each if given a choice. Weigh these against how serious you are about the schools you’re applying to.

Students sometimes like to audition first at schools they consider their “safety schools” to get audition experience under their belts. While the subjective nature of auditions means that you can’t assume any school is a “safety school,” if the stakes feel higher for some schools compared to others and if auditioning at a lower priority school will help you better understand the audition process, go for it. Just remember that your “safety school” could turn out to be the only school that accepts you, so give all of your auditions your best possible performance.

Some schools consider both undergraduate and graduate students for the slots they are looking to fill in, for instance, their jazz orchestra or big band. What this means is that you may find yourself competing against students with far more background and experience when you audition.

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Tips for Surviving the Audition

Those who have been through the audition process recommend strategies such as:

  • Auditioning at one of the schools toward the bottom of your list first.
  • If possible, visit campus beforehand to get a sense of the audition room and gain comfort with your surroundings.
  • On audition day, arrive very early to avoid stressful delays like traffic, flight issues, or even just navigating around campus.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Research your audience ahead of time. See if the committee has any stated preferences and play to them.

music college auditions

Music Schools That Don't Require Auditions –

Tips for a Successful Music Audition

A successful music audition has everything to do with whether more competitive music schools will offer you an acceptances. The college audition process can be daunting. Preparation and practice are key to hearing those magic words, “You’re accepted!”

Get an early start.

Study each school’s audition requirements carefully. Decide on your repertoire about a year in advance and aim to finish learning the pieces 2 – 3 months before your first audition. Choose pieces that you can play well and that represent you in the best light.

Usually, the audition committee expects to hear a variety of music: a slow piece; some Bach to see musicality and understanding of style; and a fast piece, like the first movement of a concerto, to show virtuosity. You can decide to play more of Bach if you feel really comfortable with it and love doing it, or you can play only a short movement if you feel this is not one of your strong areas.

Faculty members usually communicate with their applicants, so take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and express your interest in their music program. Schedule a trial lesson far in advance.

Come prepared.

Perform all of your audition pieces as many times as you can before your audition. At minimum, schedule a recital for friends and family, your congregation, or people in a retirement home.

The amount of daily practice time dedicated to playing through complete portions of audition pieces should increase significantly the closer you get to your audition. Students – as well as professionals – get too used to being able to stop at any time during practice when they make the slightest mistake; this will not be helpful during an audition when you have to keep going even if something happens. A habit of going through complete sections or pieces has to be cultivated before auditions.

Set yourself up for success on audition day.

When you arrive on campus on audition day, find the check-in table and sign in. This is important because if a student doesn’t check in, the committee will be notified and the faculty will move on to the next person on the schedule. Arrive well in advance to allow enough time to find everything, including your audition room, and to warm up.

Expect the unexpected.

Sometimes students don’t realize they will not be able to perform all of their audition pieces in their entirety, simply because the committee has limited time scheduled for each candidate. Be prepared for us to interrupt you in mid-performance by practicing stopping in the middle of a piece, concentrating, and starting another piece.

Not taking enough time to concentrate before playing is one of the most common mistakes we see. Taking the time to imagine the mood and character of the next piece is crucial. Students who don’t do this usually make a mistake very soon after beginning.

While students usually start auditions with pieces of their choice, sometimes committees will select the next piece (or even the very first one) from a candidate’s repertoire. You might not play in the order you’re used to playing when preparing for your audition, so practice performing your pieces in various orders.

Don’t worry if you’re not perfect.

At college auditions we’re looking for students who are good players with potential to grow as professionals. We overlook deficiencies or mistakes if we see talent, determination to succeed and a willingness to work hard. While you should try to perform your very best, remember that nobody is perfect.

Dr. Misha Galaganov is chair of strings and professor of viola at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. His former viola and violin students can be heard as principals in orchestras, university teachers, soloists and chamber music performers.

what are the requirements to study music in university


            The University of Nigeria minimum entry requirements in addition to:

  • 5-credit level passes in the WASC/GCE O/L/NECO (including English Language and any science subject) at not more than two sittings.
  • 3-year B.A. Honours Degree programme by direct entry and audition for those who already hold N.C.E. single major, O.N.D. in Music or Pass Grade in Diploma in Music Education of the University of Nigeria, or equivalent qualifications acceptable to Senate.


  • 2-year B.A. Honours Degree programme by direct entry and audition for those who already hold the N.C.E, Double major (Music) or not less than merit pass of the Diploma in Music Education of the University of Nigeria, or equivalent qualifications acceptable to Senate.

 All applicants, by whichever mode they seek admission, must satisfy the Department of Music of their basic musical aptitude and competence at a specially conducted departmental audition. This consists of written (theoretical), practical examinations. Candidates are recommended for admission only after they have successfully passed the audition, which normally holds in the last Thursday and Friday in August each year.

Stress Areas

  • Acoustics and Music Technology
  • General Courses (Rudiments)
  • Theoretical Courses – Harmony, Counterpoint and Analysis
  • History and Form of Western Music
  • African Music Theory and Ethnomusicology
  • Keyboard Work
  • Individual Performance; Instrument/Voice/Group Performance: Ensembles, Choirs, Bands
  • Aesthetics and Criticism Course
  • Music Education Courses
  • Research Methods/Project


Entry Requirements:

West African School Certificate with at least a pass in English language or G.C.E. (O/L) with four credits and a pas in English Language in not more than two sittings or Teacher’s Grade II Certificate or any other qualifications acceptable to Senate.

All applicants, by whichever mode they seek admission, must satisfy the Department of Music of their basic musical aptitude and competence at a specially conducted departmental audition. This consists of written (theoretical), practical (playing of various instruments, singing, etc.) as well as aural examinations. Candidates are recommended for admission only after they have successfully passed the audition, which normally holds in the last Thursday and Friday in August.

what classes do you take as a music major

As a Music Major, What Can I Actually Major In?

No two music schools offer the same exact programs, nor do they name their music major areas of study the same way. You’re apt to find out that, as an undergraduate, you can study what you are most interested in at some schools but not at others. You’re also likely to find that some schools cluster certain music majors together and house them under a specific department.

It can get confusing when you try to compare apples with apples!

Add to that the fact that new music major areas of study are continuously popping up in response to new demands, new developments in technology, and sweeping changes in the music world, and it’s even more confusing.

The following list will give you a general sense of areas within music in which you can major. Remember, however, that the best way to understand what you can study is to check school websites for descriptions and curricula.

Arts Management

Some schools offer a Bachelor of Music degree in arts management or performing arts management to prepare students for working in non-profit administration, in college and university concert promotion, and in the commercial music world. Students often have a strong background in one or more of the performing arts, including music. Coursework typically includes a combination of business classes and industry-specific courses such as economics, accounting, finance, law, marketing, and statistics.

Students in this field should plan on getting internships in areas in which they are interested. Graduates find jobs in marketing, public relations, planning, development, operations, fundraising, and education in symphonies, theaters, opera houses, foundations, public arts agencies, and record label companies. Note that courses offered at some schools in arts management may overlap with courses offered at other schools within music industry programs.

Popular Music

Popular Music is offered at a growing number of schools as a degree program for vocalists, instrumentalists, and songwriters as well as those interested in audio recording. More often, pop music is offered within the context of music business or commercial music. But look for more opportunities as schools recognize the demand for these programs.

It’s currently easier to find schools that offer just one or more classes or the opportunity to minor rather than major in: contemporary pop/rock, folk-rock, country, Rhythm & Blues, Urban, Latin/Salsa, and contemporary Christian music.

Jazz Studies

Jazz studies may be performance-based or more academically-based, so be clear about the direction in which you want to go. Jazz is often included in other majors such as performance, music history, and music education, but if you are a die-hard jazz person, you may want to find a jazz-specific program, even a free-standing jazz department.

Auditions are on jazz-eligible instruments – typically brass, woodwind, and percussion or rhythm. Guitar may be included in the jazz program or in a separate guitar major.

A jazz-intense performance curriculum is likely to include private lessons, improvisation, combos and orchestras, music history, theory, composition and arranging in addition to general requirements and a few electives.  Note that some schools require jazz majors to take classical lessons on their primary instrument.

Musical Theater

Depending on the school, musical theater is offered as a major in and of itself; as a concentration within the drama or theater department; or as a focus within the vocal performance program of the music school or department. It’s worth talking with schools as well as people who have taken different routes in musical theater to figure out which way would work best for you.

Music Education

If you are passionate about sharing your love of music with students anywhere from pre-school through college and graduate school, you may want to look at becoming a music ed major.

With a bachelor’s degree, typical job opportunities are in: primary, elementary, and secondary schools; teaching in a private studio; and directing high school band, orchestra or choral music. Graduate level training is typically required to teach university-level classes as a tenured professor, although some schools do allow extraordinarily talented musicians without graduate degrees to teach some classes. According to NAfME (National Association for Music Education) advanced degrees are also recommended for working as a music supervisor/consultant and as a university music school administrator.

Music education majors typically select a vocal/choral, instrumental or general music track. Most schools’ required coursework includes:  vocal or instrumental lessons; music theory; music history; child psychology and classroom management (for K-12 teaching); technology classes; student teaching; and conducting. Prior vocal and/or instrumental proficiency (on at least one instrument) is required of music ed applicants.

You can typically graduate as a performance major and then go back to school for approximately one year (including a stint as a student teacher) in order to gain a master’s degree and certification and licensure as a music educator.

Most important is that you choose to become a music teacher for the right reason: because you love it, as opposed to it being a fall back plan because your other career intentions did not pan out.

Music History

Majoring in music history means focusing on the history of music of Europe and North America, including all periods, styles and genres. Music history majors are proficient on an instrument and will likely be expected to play in a school performance group. However, music history majors typically pursue an area of music other than intensive performance.

Schools that offer a bachelor’s degree in music history (often with music literature) require about a third of the classes in music history and literature, a third in performance and musicianship, and a third in general studies. According to the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the ability to read foreign languages (typically German, Spanish, French) is also required.  Some schools offer performance versus research tracks. Many music schools  offer music history only through graduate programs in musicology and ethnomusicology.

Music Industry

Some schools call this major “music business” while others house their music technology curriculum within their industry program.  Coursework typically  includes classes in music management and business, contracts and legal issues regarding intellectual property, music publishing, accounting and finance, music promotion, and music administration. Courses offered in arts management at one school may be similar to those offered in music industry at another school.

Music Technology

Students who want to combine and experiment with music as well as technology may want to major in music technology. Fields within music technology, which may at some schools be majors in themselves, include music engineering technology, music production, recording, and audio and sound engineering. Each school will differ, but in general, a music technology major will learn to use current technology and equipment for recording, production, composition and performance. It’s therefore advisable to investigate the studio facilities as well as class size at schools you are considering.

Music Theory and Composition

Some schools may separate these into two distinct majors; others may include music arranging and/or editing within this major. Most music majors will find that they are required to take some music theory classes in order to graduate. But those who want to focus on the relationship of melody, harmony, and rhythm combined with the design and structure of chords as well as on creating their own compositions will want to consider majoring in this field. Typical requirements: composition, theory, aural or ear training, ethnomusicology, performance, and music history.

Music Therapy

According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions” and is used in a variety of healthcare and educational settings to “promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication, and promote physical rehabilitation.”

Music therapy is considered an allied health profession and therapists are trained as musicians as well as helping professionals. Coursework includes music; psychology; biological, social and behavioral sciences; music therapy-specific classes; and general studies.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in another area can complete the degree equivalency program in music therapy offered by most AMTA-approved universities by completing only the required coursework (without having to earn another bachelor’s degree). A Master’s in music therapy is also offered by a number of schools.


Performance majors take 65% of their coursework in performance and performance-related classes. Some schools include pedagogy, accompanying and collaborative performance (vocal and instrumental chamber music, conducted ensembles and opera), while others offer those as part of a graduate program. Other schools offer classes and even an emphasis in early music or historical performance.

Performance majors typically study brass, guitar (classical, studio, jazz), keyboard (piano, harpsichord, organ), percussion, strings, woodwinds or voice. They focus on heightening their performance skills through extensive practice as well as ongoing lessons; developing their own, personal style; and preparing to perform professionally as soloists and ensemble orchestra members.

Vocal performance majors (choral music, choral music education, classical, jazz, opera, studio music) are typically required to take diction classes and complete specific foreign language requirements. They participate in opera as well as other choral and recital performances.

World Music or Ethnomusicology

Students who want to study forms and methods of musical expression throughout the world as well as specific cultural styles of music will find undergraduate majors in world music and/or ethnomusicology at some schools. Consider whether you also want a performance emphasis or an academic, research-oriented focus.

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