Skip to Content

School of Music


Auditions

Audition information by instrument

Bassoon
Bassoonists should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. (Two single movement works are also acceptable.) Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required.

Clarinet
Clarinet candidates should prepare at least two selections that demonstrate contrasting styles, one fast and technical and the other slow and lyrical. These can include etudes as well as solo pieces. Two single movement works or individual movements from multiple movement works are acceptable. Considerable flexibility is permitted in the choice of audition material. Clarinetists admitted to the undergraduate program should demonstrate a degree of technical fluency and musical awareness appropriate to the level of the audition literature. Some appropriate audition pieces include standard etudes by C. Rose or the Melodious Studies/Hite book, etc., standard repertoire by Mozart, Saint-Saens, Stamitz, Weber, Tartini, Cavallini, Schumann, etc., or pieces chosen from collection books such as the Sixteen Grand Concert Pieces. Auditions will include sight reading and scales. Accompaniment is not required.

Classical Guitar
Considerable flexibility is permitted in the choice of audition material. Guitarists admitted to the undergraduate program should demonstrate a degree of technical fluency and musical awareness appropriate to the level of audition literature. The School of Music recognizes that some talented students may lack the benefit of substantial previous classical guitar training. These students may be offered a conditional acceptance into the program to pursue remedial study (for credit) and work toward a formal audition. More information on USC's guitar studio page.

Composition
a.  Creativity as well as musical ability and promise.
b.  Have completed all of the requirements of the USC application process.
c.  Composition Portfolio:Written musical examples from 1-3 works; recordings of those works are not necessary but would be helpful (CD, DVD, and VHS video are acceptable formats). Submit the portfolio to the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Jennifer Jablonski.
d.  A brief personal statement about your musical experience and interest in composition and aspirations in the field of music.
e.  1-2 letters of recommendation from teachers or other mentors familiar with your musical and/or academic background.

To request an interview, contact the director of music admission, Jennifer Jablonski, when registering for an audition. All prospective composition majors must successfully complete a music audition. 

More information can be found on our Bachelor of Music Composition Audition page.

Euphonium
Candidates in the brass area should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required.

Flute
Candidates in flute should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required.

Horn
Candidates in the brass area should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required. Suggested solo repertoire may include:

  • Richard Strauss, Concerto No. 1, op. 11 - first or third movement
  • Franz Strauss, Concerto, op. 8 - any movement
  • W.A. Mozart, Concerti 2, 3, or 4 - any movement
  • Arthur Frackenpohl - Largo and Allegro
  • Paul Hindemith - Sonata for F Horn

Jazz
Students must play a jazz audition for the jazz faculty, but will also be expected to play for the teachers of your primary instrument (applied area). Look for specific audition expectations by the appropriate area:  Piano, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, Guitar, Strings
Contact Bert Ligon [bligon@mozart.sc.edu] or 803-777-6565.
Prepare 3 "standard" tunes:

  • Medium Swing
  • Ballad
  • Straight eighth (bossa nova, samba)

Be prepared to play melody and improvise on each tune.

  • Play "Blues" in any key of your choice. Be able to play a blues melody (head) and improvise.
  • Major and minor scales and arpeggios
  • The audition will also consist of sight-reading different styles of music. Jazz, Latin, Straight 8th (Latin or rock). 

Accompaniment: A jazz piano accompanist and a CD player are available.

Pianists and Guitarists are expected to play the melody and improvise and will be asked to "comp" the chord changes as well. An amplifier will be provided at the audition site.

Bassists will be asked to play basslines that outline the harmony and reflect the rhythmic style of the selection. Bassists may also choose to improvise. An amplifier will be provided at the audition site. Bassists are encouraged to experience acoustic/upright and electric bass, and may audition on either or both. Some part of the audition should be on upright bass. Bassists should contact Craig Butterfield prior to audition.

Drums and Percussion
Contact Scott Herring [sherring@mozart.sc.edu] at 803-777-2155.
Demonstrate various styles including:

  • Swing: Medium to fast swing and shuffle
  • Straight Eighths: bossa nova, mambo, salsa, samba, songo, funk, pop, etc.

Be prepared to play Etude:Drum Audition No. 1
Sight-reading: Be prepared to trade 4s and 8s on all of the above styles.

More information can be found on our Jazz Auditions and Scholarships page.

Oboe
Candidates must prepare at least two selections that demonstrate contrasting styles. These can include etudes as well as solo pieces. Considerable flexibility is permitted in the choice of audition material. Oboists admitted to the undergraduate program should demonstrate a degree of technical fluency and musical awareness appropriate to the level of the audition literature. This means it is better to play easier pieces well than to play difficult pieces poorly. Some appropriate audition pieces include standard etudes by Barret or Ferling, concertos by Marcello or Haydn, and sonatas by Hindemith or Handel. Auditions will include sight reading and scales. Music scholarships are available to qualified applicants. Scholarship candidates are strongly encouraged to apply early.

Organ
Audition repertory should consist of one contrapuntal work by Bach or Buxtehude, a work from the nineteenth century, and, if possible, a piece from the twentieth century. Memorization is not required.

Percussion
Students must audition in the three areas below. 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. Jazz studies students must audition in the three areas below and also on drumset. For information about the Jazz Audition Requirements, please see the Jazz Studies audition requirements.

1. Snare Drum:
One Concert-Style study or solo. Selections from the following books would be appropriate:
Portraits in Rhythm by Anthony Cirone
Intermediate Snare Drum Studies by Mitchell Peters
Contemporary Studies for the Snare Drum by Fred Albright
Recital Solos for Snare Drum by Garwood Whaley.

A rudimental-style solo may also be played in addition to the concert etude. Sightreading will also be asked.

2. Keyboard Percussion (Marimba or Xylophone):
A two or four-mallet etude or solo. A selection from the following list would be appropriate:

Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba and Vibes by Morris Goldenberg
Masterpieces for Marimba by Thomas McMillian
Musical Studies for the Intermediate Mallet Player by Garwood Whaley.
Furioso and Valse by Earl Hatch
Sea Refractions by Mitchell Peters
Yellow after the Rain by Mitchell Peters.

Sightreading will also be asked.

3. Timpani:
Demonstrate a basic knowledge of tuning the drums, including the intervals of fourths and fifths. One etude or solo. A selection from the following list would be appropriate:

Fundamental Studies for Timpani by Garwood Whaley
Fundamental Method for Timpani by Mitchell Peters
Modern Method for Timpani by Saul Goodman
Musical Studies for the Intermediate Timpanist by Garwood Whaley.

Piano
Students auditioning to be considered for a performance degree should prepare a balanced program of three memorized works from contrasting style periods. The program may involve either complete works or individual movements from larger works. Students auditioning for entrance to other music degree programs or auditioning for a minor in music should prepare two works from contrasting style periods. Students majoring in areas other than music, but wishing to pursue elective study in piano, should prepare one piece that best represents their skills. In the case of non-performance degrees, memorization is encouraged but not required. There is no examination of technical rudiments, but all applicants are asked to sight-read at the audition.

Saxophone
Saxophonists should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared and sight-reading is required.

Strings
Strings candidates should be prepared to play two works in contrasting styles that best represent the student's highest technical and musical achievement. Recommended is a movement of solo Bach, as well as a concerto movement or short solo piece. At least one work from memory is recommended, but not mandatory. Accompaniments are encouraged but not required. Students interested in the USC String Project should be prepared to describe briefly why they are interested in music education and summarize any teaching experience.

Trombone
Trombonists should prepare two or three pieces in contrasting styles: lyrical/legato and technical/tongued. These varied styles can be different movements from the same work. Students may select etudes, solos or orchestral excerpts. In addition, sight-reading is required.

Suggested pieces (tenor trombone):
Guilmant, Morceau Symphonique (Concert Piece)
Galliard, Sonata No. 1
Barat, Andante and Allegro
Rimsky Korsakov, Concerto (esp. mvts. I and II)
St. Seans, Cavatine
Larsson Concertino (esp mvts II and III)

Suggested etudes (tenor trombone):
Bordogni/Rochut, Melodious Etudes for Trombone
Voxman, ed., Selected Studies
Suggested pieces (bass trombone):
Haddad, Suite for Tuba (esp. mvts I and II)
Lassen/Bollinger, Two Fantasy Pieces
Jacob, Cameos (esp. mvts. I, II or III)
Hindemith, Drei Leichte Stucke (Three Easy Pieces)
Suggested etudes (bass trombone):
Bordogni/Rochut, Melodious Etudes for Trombone (down an octave)
Bordogni/Ostrander, Melodious Etudes for Bass Trombone
Grigoriev, Studies

Candidates are free to select other works of comparable difficulty. Above all, auditioners should choose music on which they sound their best.

Trumpet
Candidates in the brass area should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required.

Tuba
Candidates in the brass area should prepare two movements from different compositions from the standard solo repertoire that show a contrast in style, one fast and the other slow and lyrical. Two single movement works are also acceptable. Accompaniment is not required. Major scales should be prepared; sight-reading is required.

Voice
Students should bring a minimum of three memorized selections in contrasting style. Examples of repertoire could include selections from the "Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias" collection or "The First/Second Book of SATB Solos," compiled by Joan Boytim. One music theater piece is also permissible. One selection in a foreign language is recommended. No taped accompaniments, pop songs, or unaccompanied selections are allowed. A piano accompanist is provided for all auditioners, and all those auditioning are encouraged to use our accompanist at no charge. All those who choose to use our accompanist, perform their audition with no rehearsal time beforehand. Auditioners may instead choose to bring their own accompanist, if they desire. Aural and sightsinging skills will be tested.

Submitting Pre-Recorded Auditions
It is to a student's advantage to perform a live audition, if possible. Applicants who live outside of South Carolina may try to arrange a live audition on a date other than those offered, with the approval of the director of music admissions. Audition dates other than those already scheduled are not available in the piano and voice areas.

Applicants who live outside of South Carolina and who are unable to travel to the campus for an audition may submit a pre-recorded audition on tape or CD. To submit a pre-recorded audition, register for an audition and select the "pre-recorded audition" option. Then send your CD, DVD, or sound files to Jennifer Jablonski, director of music admissions, USC School of Music, 813 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29208 or to jjablonski@mozart.sc.edu. CDs, DVD or sound files should be submitted by candidates as early as possible in the audition review cycle; they must be received by USC no later than the last scheduled audition date.