Special talent music

Music Special Talent Applicants

Submitting a special talent for review at Binghamton University is an opportunity for your talents to be actively considered in your admissions process. It is a chance to showcase your talents; it does not affect your intended major; however, only students applying to the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences may submit a portfolio. All required materials must be received by January 15. 

Note: Special talent supplements will be considered during the Regular Decision application review (Jan. 15). Students who apply Early Action and submit a special talent supplement will have this component reviewed if they are deferred to Regular Decision.

Applicants to the Bachelor of Music degree in performance: The Talent Review will be used for pre-screening and you will be contacted about in-person auditions for the BMus program (acceptance to the BMus program does not guarantee acceptance to Binghamton University). Questions about the Special Talent Review in Music or the Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance should be sent to strmusic@binghamton.edu.


Step 1: Apply to Binghamton

Step 2: Submit the special talent form (deadline is Jan. 15). Note: You'll need your username and password to log in. Your username is emailed to you after your application is received.

Step 3: Upload the requirements below to your online status checker.

General requirements

  • Submit a current résumé that summarizes your musical experience, including:
    • your instrument(s), voice part or composition, including number of years studied
    • names of your private teacher(s)
    • ensembles or organizations with which you’ve performed and in what capacity
    • awards and honors (including all-state ensembles, etc.)
    • major solo repertoire studied
  • A good-quality recording of your performing or compositional work, between five- and 12- minutes in length (see below guidelines for specific performance areas)
    • You may post videos to YouTube.com or Vimeo.com (you may post a separate video for each piece or one video with multiple pieces, as you prefer).Make sure your videos are publicly viewable and not password-protected. 
  •  A letter of recommendation from a teacher who knows your musical abilities well. This should be your private-lesson teacher if you have one, or an ensemble director who has worked with you individually.
  • Guidelines for recommenders: Discuss your work with the applicant, describing repertoire studied, strengths and weaknesses in technique and expression, ability to respond to a teacher’s advice and growth as a musician over time. Try to note strengths and accomplishments that might not appear on the student’s résumé. Evaluate the student’s potential for musical success at the university and professional levels.

Portfolio requirements

These guidelines are intended to convey the range and level of proficiency expected for the Talent Review process; they are not strict requirements. If they do not seem suited to your talents, we encourage you to demonstrate your abilities as fully as possible within the 12-minute time limit. If you are providing recordings in more than one instrument or other area (voice, composition, etc.), you may include 12 minutes of material for each specialization.

  • Voice
    • A minimum of two pieces in contrasting styles from the classical repertoire (e.g. an early Italian or English song and an art song from the Romantic period).
    • As a third selection you may also add a musical theater song. Choose lyrical selections that show your range, your musicianship and phrasing, and your diction.
    • Performances with piano accompaniment are preferred.
  • Piano
    • A minimum of two pieces in contrasting styles (for example, Baroque and Romantic) at NYSSMA* level 5 or 6 (or equivalent), demonstrating technical and expressive playing, memorized if possible.
    • One major and one minor scale and arpeggio, four octaves in quarters, eighths and sixteenths.
  • Brass/Woodwind
    • A level 5 or 6 NYSSMA* solo (or equivalent) demonstrating your musicality (phrasing), technical level, and control of intonation, articulation and rhythm.
    • One étude, study, or other contrasting work.
    • Two major scales over the standard range of the instrument (1–3 octaves).
  • Percussion
    • Two solo pieces on different instruments that demonstrate musicality, technique, and varied dynamics and articulation.
  • Violin/Viola
    • 2–3 octave major and minor scales (one of each); bowings and/or accelerations are encouraged, but not required.
    • Solo of applicant’s choice (NYSSMA* level 5 or 6, or equivalent) which demonstrates musicality and variety of techniques OR 2 contrasting works.
    • Performances with piano accompaniment are encouraged, but not required.
    • Video, if used, should be shot showing the front of the candidate, with both hands visible.
  •  Cello
    • C major and D minor scales and arpeggios over 3 octaves, plus two contrasting pieces.
  •  Bass
    • G major and D minor scales and arpeggios over 2 octaves, plus two contrasting pieces.
  • Organ
    • An organ work by J.S. Bach and a piece from either the Romantic or Modern repertoire for organ solo.
  • Jazz
    • Pianists, guitarists, percussionists, vocalists and wind instrument players who wish to demonstrate ability in the jazz idiom should improvise a blues melody or a standard tune of their choice with a live or recorded background, then improvise at least two choruses, and complete the performance by playing the melody of the tune again.
    • Vocalists should sing the melody, then scat sing a chorus or two, then sing the melody of the tune again.
  • World or Popular Music Tradition
    • Demonstrate your technique and expressivity as appropriate to the instrument(s), styles, and traditions represented.
    • Ensemble performances are acceptable if you are featured in a solo or other prominent role identifiable on the recording.
  • Composition
    • Submit at least two scores of works for different performing forces or media.
    • Include audio or video recordings if possible, preferably of live performances rather than electronic realizations.
    • Purely electronic works should also include a score or, if the music does not use conventional notation, a statement describing the hardware and software used, and the compositional techniques involved.
    • Submissions of recordings only will not be evaluated.

*NYSSMA, the New York State School Music Association, publishes lists of repertoire graded by technical difficulty. Level 5 and 6 solos are the most challenging, approximating the level of typical professional repertoire. If you are not familiar with NYSSMA rankings, consult with your teacher and select the most challenging music that you can perform well.