Ensemble Audition Information
Click here to learn about large and small ensembles at the Mead Witter School of Music.
On this page you will find:
- Excerpts to prepare
- Audition forms
- Audition advice
- Links to online sign-ups
DECEMBER 2019 AUDITIONS: Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra
DECEMBER AUDITIONS FOR WIND ENSEMBLE & SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Audition time sign-ups
Flute (Tuesday 12/10)
Oboe (Tuesday 12/10)
Clarinet (Wednesday 12/11)
Saxophone (Tuesday 12/10)
Bassoon (Wednesday 12/11)
Horn (Thursday 12/12)
Trumpet (Wednesday 12/11)
Trombone (Wednesday 12/11)
Euphonium (Thursday 12/12)
Tuba (Thursday 12/12)
Percussion (Thursday 12/12)
Harp (Tuesday 12/10)
*Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass will NOT re-audition for Spring Semester 2020.
JANUARY 2020 AUDITIONS: Choral (more information coming soon!)
- Tuesday, January 21, 2020
- Wednesday, January 22, 2020
- Print on white paper, double-sided
- Fill out all information
- Write your name on both sides at the top
- Take completed form to your audition!
JAZZ ENSEMBLE AUDITIONS: Now closed. Next auditions Fall 2020.
Auditions for jazz ensembles are now complete. Click here to view audition results and Fall 2019 rosters.
Auditionees assigned to ensembles should have received a code from the conductors or ensemble TAs for enrollment. If you have not received a code, contact the conductor and/or your advisor.
Jazz ensembles auditions for all music majors (jazz and other MWSoM majors) will be held on Thursday, August 29, 2019 (woodwinds and brass, 8-minute time slots) and Friday, August 30, 2019 (rhythm section, 10-minute time slots including set-up).
Jazz ensemble auditions for all non-music majors will be held on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 (first day of classes). Times will vary based on the instrument you play (10- to 12-minute time slots).
Ensemble placements are for the full academic year. There are no regularly scheduled spring semester auditions, except in the occasional cases of specific vacancies.
WHO CAN AUDITION:
Auditions are open to music majors and non-majors on all instruments (jazz ensembles consist of roughly 50% music majors and 50% non-majors). Students must be enrolled in classes at UW–Madison and, upon a successful audition, be able to add a 1-credit section of MUS 262 or MUS 562 to their schedule.
Students wishing to audition on more than one instrument should sign up for multiple audition time slots (one per instrument). Saxophonists who would like to be considered for multiple saxophone chairs (alto, tenor, baritone) should audition only on their first-choice saxophone but indicate their available doubles on their audition form.
There is a wide range of skill and experience levels represented in the UW–Madison jazz ensembles. However, rhythm section players (piano, guitar, vibraphone, bass, drums) should have prior jazz ensemble experience. Improvisation experience is required for most instruments, but there are some ensemble opportunities for brass players who are novice improvisers.
ABOUT ENSEMBLE PLACEMENTS:
Students take a single audition, after which they are considered for placement in any of the Mead Witter School of Music’s six jazz ensembles. The jazz ensembles are not ranked by experience or skill level. Each ensemble has a different curricular and repertoire focus, for example, the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble focuses exclusively on music of that diaspora. (Please visit this page for descriptions of each jazz ensemble). The jazz faculty attempts to rotate participating students through different ensemble experiences from each year to the next.
Upon a successful audition, students will be assigned an ensemble based on multiple considerations, which include the student’s schedule availability, instrument distribution, and available space within the ensembles, among other pedagogical decisions. Attempts are made to match similar skill and experience levels and factor in the student’s stated ensemble preference. Once students have been assigned to an ensemble, they will receive a registration code and must then register for the corresponding section of the 1-credit class, MUS 262 (for undergraduate credit) or MUS 562 (for graduate credit).
AT THE AUDITION:
Reading: Students will be asked to sight-read a jazz big band part together with piano accompaniment (provided). Focus is on jazz-appropriate phrasing, sight-reading accuracy, instrumental tone, and technical ability. Guitarists’ and pianists’ sight-reading piece will include comping over a given chord progression. Bassists’ sight-reading piece will include walking a bass line over a given chord progression. The level of difficulty of the sight-reading will be adjusted based on the auditioning student’s experience and reading ability. Students with limited reading skills who are otherwise experienced jazz players are still encouraged to audition, as sight-reading accuracy is only one of several consideration in ensemble placements.
Improvisation: Students will be asked to improvise on a standard chord progression. Novice improvisers who are not yet comfortable navigating chord changes can substitute improvising over a blues progression in the key of F (concert).
Drummers: Students auditioning on drum set will be asked to play a variety of jazz grooves at different tempos, including medium swing, ballad, two-feel, fast swing, bossa nova, samba, 3/4 jazz waltz, and others.
EQUIPMENT AND INSTRUMENTS:
A full drum set with cymbals, guitar amplifier, bass amplifier, and piano will be provided for the audition. Drummers may choose to bring their own cymbals and guitarists may choose to bring their own amplifiers. Upon successful audition and enrollment in a jazz ensemble course, instruments (woodwinds and brass instruments, basses) are available for rent from the Mead Witter School of Music. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide instruments in advance for students to prepare for their auditions.
Students concerned about the sight-reading aspect of the audition can prepare for the audition by reading through transcribed jazz solos (available online) or reviewing previously played ensemble parts, and/or by reading through melodies and improvising over the changes of a variety of lead sheets from the various volumes of The Real Book (Hal Leonard), Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Longs, or other fake books. Suggested melodies for sight-reading practice include both melodies that are usually performed as written (many jazz originals whose melodies are notated with very specific rhythms, especially bebop compositions such as pieces by Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk) and melodies that require interpretive changes for an idiomatic jazz performance (most jazz standards, such as Broadway compositions by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, or Jerome Kern, which are usually notated in simplified forms in fake book lead sheets). Students wishing to brush up on their ensemble improvisation are encouraged to prepare by informally playing jazz standards together with friends, to seek out jam session opportunities such as the Madison Jazz Jam and to practice along with recordings, the Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Longs, or the iReal Pro app.
For further questions regarding auditions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 263-1770.
Wisconsin Singers Band Auditions: Now closed.
AUDITION NOW for the 2019–2020 Season
Do you have a passion for the stage? Interested in gigging with other great instrumentalists? Looking for a way to gain performing experience in a variety of popular music styles while sharing the stage with some of UW’s top talents? Wisconsin Singers, the UW’s premier Broadway-caliber pop music entertainment troupe, has openings for instrumentalists, singers, dancers, and stage technicians. Auditions for the 2019–2020 season will be held in spring 2018 or by appointment (online audition also available). As a Wisconsin Singer, you will work with professional choreographers and arrangers while learning how to stylize all genres of pop music. Band members work with arrangements written to challenge and showcase your individual strengths. We are also interviewing for theater techs in sound, lighting, and stage management. All performers and techs receive scholarship dollars and UW course credit. Visit wisconsinsingers.com/bandauditions or call (608) 263-9499 or (608) 609-1303 to schedule your audition time.
AUDITIONS: Marching Band: Now closed.
Registration is required to audition for the Marching Band. Registration is now closed.
2019 Audition Information
Prospective Members: Early move-in will take place on Monday, August 19, 12–4 p.m. An informational mixer will take place on Monday evening and music auditions will begin on Tuesday, August 20. Registration is required to audition for the Marching Band.
The deadline to sign-up for early move-in (via the link above) is August 1. A $270 charge will be applied to your tuition bill for accessing university housing prior to the official move-in date.
Returning members: Evaluations and rehearsals will be held on August 19–20.
**A detailed schedule with times and activities will be sent to via email by Friday, August 2**
General Audition Information
The audition will consist of two elements: a music audition and a marching audition.
Winds: Music Auditions
- Chromatic scale (demonstrate as much of your range as possible)
- C major scale (concert pitch, two octaves if possible)
- A-flat major scale (concert pitch, two octaves if possible)
- Select and prepare two separate musical excerpts, one demonstrating technical abilities and one demonstrating lyrical abilities. We recommend you prepare 3 minutes of music total between the two selections. These etudes can come from solos, honor band auditions, or concert music. We just want to hear you at your best!
- Sight Reading
Percussion: Music Auditions: Refer to the information in the Drumline Handbook.
Marching Audition: Marching auditions will consist of UW Marching Band fundamentals and marching while playing. All fundamentals will be taught during the audition process.