Do I have to be a "music major" to be in orchestra or band?
Musicians from all disciplines campus-wide are welcome in our ensembles.
What instrumental ensembles do I have to audition for?
University Orchestra, Wind Symphony, both Jazz Bands, and Percussion Ensemble
Why do I have to audition?
The primary purpose of your audition is to ensure that the ensemble is a good fit for you by providing you with a sample of the music and expectations of the group before you commit to playing for the whole year. It also gives the ensemble directors the opportunity to hear the individual players to determine how to craft the ensemble in terms of seating and repertoire.
When do I register for the ensemble, before or after the audition?
Generally, we encourage everyone to register for the ensemble that they hope to be in. This way you can complete your registration without having to mentally keep a block of time open. However, if you are anticipating a course conflict with your preferred ensemble, we recommend registering for the OTHER course and waiting until the outcome of the audition (this helps eliminate paperwork). Having this said, do be aware that sometimes people don’t make the ensemble that they hope to be in. Be sure that you are aware of what your secondary option for an ensemble is — usually this is University Band or Jazz 2:40.
What happens if I don’t get into the ensemble I want to be in?
Unfortunately, this sometimes happens. The first thing you should do is make an appointment with the ensemble director to determine what it was that prevented you from making the group—be sure to get an idea of what you can work on in the future. Next, determine what other options you have available. There are a number of non-auditioned groups that meet regularly with the purpose of providing a musical outlet to MSU students. University Band, Pep Band, Cello Ensemble, Clarinet/Flute Choir, Horn Ensemble are just a few examples. The bottom line is we want you to still play your instrument!
How do I audition?
This depends on the ensemble you are auditioning for. Each ensemble director has a slightly different way of running auditions. Your first stop is the MSU School of Music website. The orchestra and Wind Symphony audition materials are posted online. If you are not sure, please do not hesitate to contact the ensemble director—but it is always better to do this before auditions rather than during or after!
What do I prepare?
The audition requirements are posted on the MSU School of Music website. If you are unsure, please contact the ensemble director.
Can I borrow an instrument to audition?
MSU owns professional-quality instruments that are available for students to participate in ensembles. To check-out an instrument, please contact Whitney Salo in the music office in Howard Hall. The office is open from 8am-noon and 1pm-5pm on business days (closed on evenings and weekends).
Do I need to do separate auditions if I want to be in more than one group?
This depends on the groups you want to be in. In general, each ensemble director will want to hear you play before assigning you a chair in the group. However, this year for woodwinds, brass, and percussion, the orchestra and Wind Symphony auditions are combined.
Do I need to audition for Wind Symphony even if I only want to be in orchestra (or visa versa)?
If you are a woodwind, brass, or percussion player, the auditions for Wind Symphony and orchestra is the same. Please prepare the excerpts as if you were auditioning for either or both. We understand that some students may not be interested or available to be in both groups.
What do I do if I don’t feel prepared? (I didn't know there was an audition and don’t have time to practice).
Well, you certainly won’t make the group if you don’t audition, so our recommendation is to give it your best shot. Keep in mind that we are listening for more than just right notes. Tone, articulation, range, and timing are all very important aspects of a player, and are things that will be present in your playing even if you haven’t had the excerpts that long.
What will the audition be like / is it scary?
We all understand performance nerves and what it is like to feel anxious about playing an audition. If it helps, keep in mind that everyone has to do it, and that the ensemble directors listen to lots and lots of people in just a few hours. We don’t want to hear about all the things you can’t do, we want to hear what you can. So just be sure to eliminate anything that might stress you out about auditioning. For example, wear nice clothes (unless coming from band camp), arrive early, visit Howard Hall on the day before your audition so you know where to go, drink lots of water and eat breakfast, contact the ensemble director even just to say “hi.” These are all things that help reduce the stress of auditioning.
Expect your audition to be 5-10 minutes in length. You will be the only student in the room during your audition (so the room will be free from distraction). Since there is a limited amount of time and we want you to have your full opportunity to play, we will save our official “Hello and Welcome to MSU Talk” for the first rehearsal. You will be invited into the room. Please come in and make yourself comfortable. Be sure to give your completed audition form to whoever is leading the audition. Play a few notes to get a feel of the space (which will be larger and warmer than you are used to). We tend to begin with scales and end with excerpts or solos. At the end of the audition you might be asked about your goals for the year depending on how much time is left. We thank you in advance in participating in the audition process and look forward an exciting year!