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Frequently Asked Questions

about Ensemble/Lesson Auditions:

Hints and Help for New Students

Audition Schedule

General Information

When and where are ensemble, studio lessons and chamber music auditions?

How many people do you take?

What do I do for the audition? 

Where can I practice? 

What if I need an instrument?

Where can I store my instrument?

What if I want lessons?

How does chamber music work?

How do I know if I am accepted? 

Can I take music for credit?






As soon as possible after getting settled in your residence (Thursday or Friday, if you can), walk over to the Fine Arts (hereafter, FA) Building. FA is a very large and complex building -the best entrance to reach the Music Department is on the ground floor near the base of the University Union's clock tower. Alternately, you can enter from the 'Peace Quad' doors, under the Pegasus horse. The first thing to do is visit the Bulletin Boards near the Music Office, FA Room 165. These will have general information about performance courses, classroom courses and auditions. Importantly, you will be directed to the Bulletin Board nearest your audition room, where you will sign up for an audition time for your instrument or voice and find more specific information. Find a time when you are free, and write yourself in for a time-slot. Be sure to read everything on the boards – there will be other important information on lessons, chamber ensembles, registration and other performing opportunities!

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All music department auditions are during the first week of classes for all instrumental, vocal/choral and keyboard players. All auditions for Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Studio lessons and Chamber Music are in FA 111. The Jazz Ensemble, holds full-band open auditions only on the first Tuesday of classes, from 7:00-10:00 pm in the jazz ensemble room, FA 24 (see below).

Note: Any Jazzers who want studio lessons must also play an audition in FA 111 to meet and play for their studio teacher. Sign up under your instrument.

If you cannot make any of the times scheduled for your instrument/voice, immediately visit or contact the faculty member running those auditions – their email should be posted in the sign-up area.

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We are more interested in including than excluding you. Between the Orchestra and Wind Symphony we normally accept 10 flutes, 5 oboes, 20 clarinets, 4 low clarinets, 4-6 saxes, 8 trumpets, 9 horns, 8 trombones, 2-3 baritones and euphoniums, 4 tubas, 8 percussionists, 1-2 Harps and 2 Keyboardists. The Orchestra strings normally include 28 violins, 12 violas, 12 celli and five basses. The Jazz ensemble carries a standard 'big-band' complement of 5-6 sax – 5 trumpet- 4 trombone plus 1-2 complete rhythm sections, and often has a few extra players. While there is likely to be plenty of room for you, it's best to be flexible – it sometimes takes a semester or two to earn the spot in the ensemble where you most want to be! Students admitted in the Fall retain their ensemble membership for the entire academic year provided they remain in good standing, so it is highly advisable to audition in Fall, as only vacancies are filled for Spring semester. For players who want to join Spring semester, check the Bulletin Board by FA 165 to see how many of each instrument are being sought. Spring auditions are the first week of Spring term.

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Because we hear several hundred people the first week, our auditions are short and to the point! The faculty who direct the auditions vary slightly in their expectations – check under your area for details when you sign up for a time. Instrumentalists should prepare one (band/orchestra) or two (piano) pieces; choral vocalists should try to bring a prepared folk or art song if possible. Band and Orchestra instrumentalists should know scales, and everyone may have to do a bit of sight-singing/sight-reading. The Jazz Ensemble audition is the first Tuesday night from 7-10 pm in FA 24. Jazz students will take turns sitting in and reading charts with the band, and may be asked to solo. Be sure to have your instrument with you. The band is normally selected after this rehearsal. If jazzers are interested in taking lessons, or in either Wind Ensemble or Orchestra, be sure to take the FA 111 audition as well!

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We have many practice rooms in the lower level. Some are open whenever the Fine Arts Building is open, but most will require a key. During office hours (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) during the first week (audition week) you may go to the Music Office (FA 165), hand over your ID (make sure that it is validated) and get a practice room key. Be sure to return the key or you won't get your ID back (and can't eat or check out library books). After the auditions all students accepted into any program of the Department can, for a fee ($20 fee for the year) get their own key for a set of practice rooms. Highly recommended. All practice rooms have emergency security telephones.

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Students are generally expected to provide their own instruments, but we do have a small number of instruments for rental to those accepted into the ensemble programs on specialized instruments or who are taking instrumental methods courses. Available instruments include piccolo, oboe, English horn, A-, C-, alto, bass and contrabass clarinets, bassoon, tenor and baritone saxes, viola, cello and bass. We have a very few other smaller instruments, but in these cases the student may be directed to a local music store for a rental. Reeds, mouthpieces, mutes, sticks etc. must be supplied by the student. If you anticipate needing an instrument, email Prof. Perry ( for woodwind or brass instruments and Prof. Stalker ( for strings BEFORE YOU ARRIVE ON CAMPUS. We'll work on arrangements for practicing for your audition, and storage if required. Be proactive.

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We have an instrument storage room (FA 29) which is located on the floor just below the Band/Orchestra rehearsal room for the use of students in the Music programs. To get a locker, bring a standard 'Master'-type combination (not keyed) lock and your student ID to the Music Office. Tell the secretary or staffer what instrument you play. They will need your ID number (to allow you access to the room through the electronic outer lock) and will assign you a locker for your instrument to use with your combination lock. DO THIS ASAP, because it takes the computer center about 24 hours to enter your ID into code and allow you access to the storage room. Otherwise you may have to lug your instrument back and forth for a few days to your dorm or apartment.

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We make lessons available to students who are in good standing in a major ensemble (Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, or Jazz Ensemble for instrumentalists; University Chorus, Harpur Chorale or Women's Chorus for singers; Piano class for keyboardists). A fee of $75 (instrumentalists) or $125 (vocalists) is assessed for the semester. Acceptance into a major ensemble is the 'gateway' you must maintain to be eligible for lessons. Sometimes we have enough hours for all students who want lessons to receive them. Sometimes the demand exceeds the supply. Our faculty work very hard to accept as many students as they can. You must maintain membership in your ensemble to keep lessons. If you want lessons, be sure to indicate it on your audition form, and come well prepared! A wide array of performance opportunities are available. Studio lessons and chamber music MUST be taken for credit. The number of credits is decided by the studio teacher when he or she makes up their schedule. See them if you have questions.

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Like lessons, chamber music and small ensembles are available only to those accepted or available for acceptance into a major ensemble. Again, indicate your interest on the audition form you will fill out before the audition. It doesn't hurt to speak with a faculty member as well. Various performance opportunities are available both on- and off-campus.

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We normally post ensemble lists not later than Friday noon the end of the first week on each area's Bulletin Board (where you signed up for an audition time) and also by the Music Office (FA 165). The individual studio teachers will also post the list of students accepted to the lesson studio and chamber music groups on their studio door and/or on the ensemble bulletin boards. Rehearsals and registration for the ensemble courses take place in the first rehearsal during the second week of classes (you cannot pre-register for these courses). Everyone must attend these rehearsals or risk a late-add fee. 

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Absolutely! First-semester freshmen CAN TAKE UP TO 20 CREDITS AS AN OVERLOAD if credits 19-20 are in music performance (MUSP) courses. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't possible. Some well-meaning people suggest that beginning freshmen/women should not take music because they will have 'too much other work'. With all due respect, in 20 years of teaching over 3000 students I have had fewer than a dozen who needed to drop their performance music course. If anything, it helps you by breaking the tedium and stress of some of the other classes you may have to take! Ensembles are available for 0,1 or 2 credits. About 95% of students take the 2-credit option – only those who wish to avoid an overload petition normally take the zero or one-credit option.

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Instrumental auditions consist of three minutes prepared music to demonstrate technique/musicianship; knowledge of scales; brief sight-reading. Choral auditions consist of a prepared solo or My Country 'Tis of Thee, scales, tonal memory drill, and sight-reading. If you are interested in Vocal Coaching, a solo from classical or Broadway repertoire or the Star Spangled Banner. If you are admitted into an ensemble, then you have the potential to qualify for private instruction. Faculty admits a select few to receive instruction, and selection would be determined from auditions.

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Like competitive athletes, a practicing musician must understand how to maintain their musical health within the contexts of practice, performance, teaching, and listening in order to avoid injury. As you pursue intensive musical studies here at Binghamton your studio teachers and ensemble directors will discuss issues that affect hearing, vocal and musculoskeletal health, and injury prevention. If you have any concerns about your musical health, you should discuss them with your studio teacher and/or ensemble director. All faculty and staff in the Music Department have had the opportunity to review and recommend the following resources:


Copies of the following books are available for reading in the Music Department Office (FA 165):
Horvath, Janet. (2010). Playing less hurt: An injury prevention guide for musicians. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Books.
Gates, Rachael, Forrest, Arick, & Obert, Kerrie. (2013). The Owner's Manual to the Voice: A Guide for Singers and Other Professional Voice Users. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


The following websites contain useful information and links for all areas of musical health:

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Last Updated: 7/23/18