Ensemble Audition Information

[July 2020] The University of Wisconsin-Madison will welcome students back to campus as scheduled for the start of fall classes on September 2. For more information on the campus response to COVID-19, visit smartrestart.wisc.edu.

In response, Mead Witter School of Music faculty and staff, and especially our conductors, aim to have specific guidelines related to the school available soon. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our number one priority.

This page will be updated accordingly if decisions are made regarding changes to ensemble placement auditions.

Click here to learn about large and small ensembles at the Mead Witter School of Music.

Auditioning for entry into the Mead Witter School of Music? Please visit our undergraduate or graduate admissions pages.

On this page you will find:

  • Excerpts to prepare
  • Audition forms
  • Audition advice
  • Links to online sign-ups

FALL 2020 AUDITIONS: Marching Band: JULY 27 UPDATE

Registration is required to audition for the UW-Madison Marching Band.

Interested in joining the UW-Madison Marching Band? The deadline for filling out an intent to audition form for the 2020 season has passed. Please contact badgerbandinfo@music.wisc.edu for more information if you would like to consider auditioning for the band.

Summer Sectionals – CANCELED

Saturday, June 20  *  Saturday, July 25  *  Saturday, August 1

Early move-in & Music auditions

Tuesday, August 18

The deadline for early move-in reservations has passed. For questions about campus housing, email assignme@housing.wisc.edu.

**A full schedule of August events will be emailed by Friday, July 31**


The audition consists of two elements: MARCHING and MUSIC.

Marching Audition: In-person during Reg Week (all instruments)

UW-Madison Marching Band fundamentals and marching while playing. All fundamentals will be taught during the audition process.

Music Audition: PERCUSSION: In-person during Reg Week

Refer to the Marching Percussion Handbook.

Music Audition: WINDS: Online video submission (deadline August 18)


  1. Chromatic scale (demonstrate as much of your range as possible)
  2. C major scale (concert pitch, two octaves if possible)
  3. A-flat major scale (concert pitch, two octaves if possible)


Two of your choice; approximately three minutes of music total. EXAMPLES: Solos, honor band audition music, concert music.

  1. One selection should demonstrate technical abilities.
  2. Second selection should demonstrate lyrical abilities.

More detailed instructions regarding Marching Band auditions, both in-person and video submission, have been emailed to those students who filled out the intent-to-audition form.


More information at badgerband.com.

Email badgerbandinfo@music.wisc.edu.

FALL 2020 AUDITIONS: CHORAL: More information coming soon

Audition dates:

  • Coming soon

Audition for fall semester 2020 if you are…

  • New to UW–Madison Choral Ensembles for the 2020–2021 school year.
    • You do not need to be a music major to audition.
  • Interested in trying out for a different ensemble. Review choral ensemble descriptions here.
    • University Chorus does not require an audition. Simply enroll in the course.

Download the Choral Audition Form 2019–2020

  • 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!

UW–Madison Students:


  • Sign-ups/times/locations coming soon

How to audition:

  • Sign up for an audition time using the appropriate link above.
  • Print and complete the choral audition form before arriving at your audition (see above).
  • Arrive ten minutes early for your audition.
  • Wait for audition results before enrolling in a course. Results will be communicated within a few days.
  • Perform your 8-minute audition:
    • Sing “My Country, “Tis of Thee.” We have the words and will help you with your best starting note. Alternatively, you can prepare a short, simple song of your choice.
    • Sight-reading as requested.
    • At the end of the audition, the conductors will help you decide which choir best suits your schedule and abilities. Each ensemble performs several required concerts per semester.
  • Wait for audition results before enrolling in a course. Results will be communicated within a few days.

Community Members/Non-UW:

Fall Semester 2020: Choral Union is open to interested community members (non-UW students). Auditions will be held in the George L. Mosse Humanities Building at 455 N. Park St. in Madison.


  • Times/locations coming soon
  • It is not essential to sign up in advance for an audition time. Walk-in auditions for community members/non-UW–Madison students are first come, first serve.
  • Print and complete the choral audition form before arriving at your audition (see above).
  • The 8-minute audition will include singing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (or a short, simple song of your choice) and some sight reading.
    • The instructor will notify you of audition results via email. Once you have passed the audition (or received instructor consent to waive the audition) you will be directed to the Division of Continuing Studies to complete the enrollment process.

Contact: performingorgs@music.wisc.edu (608) 263-1770

FALL 2020 AUDITIONS: Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra: JULY 20 UPDATE

[July 20, 2020] Wind Ensemble, Concert band, and Symphony Orchestra auditions will take place online. Students wishing to audition will submit pre-recorded videos to designated links in this space between August 17–23. Students will be notified of their placements September 1. 

More detailed instructions regarding video submissions will be posted here in mid-August. Please continue to prepare the posted repertoire.

Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra auditions are required for:

  • All UW-Madison undergraduate music majors with a classical focus degree in woodwind, brass, percussion, and strings.
  • All UW-Madison music majors who have been awarded a scholarship while pursuing a classical focus degree in woodwind, brass, percussion, and strings.
  • All Summer Music Clinic Tuition Waiver recipients.

Additionally, any UW–Madison student wishing to be considered for placement in the Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra can audition.

Note: If a non-major undergraduate or graduate student wishes to play in a non-audition ensemble, they are invited to register for either All University Strings (Mus. 60, section 1 or 2), or a University Band (Music 43, section 1, 2, or 3.) These ensembles meet one evening a week and perform regularly throughout the semester.

To audition for the Fall 2020, students should complete both an audition form and sign-up for an audition time before the deadline. [coming soon]

Students playing string instruments audition once a year.  Auditions are held during the days leading up to the first day of classes for the fall semester.

Student playing woodwind, brass, or percussion instruments audition twice, once before the fall semester, and again in December for the Spring semester.

  • Audition dates for Fall 2020: pre-recorded video submissions must be uploaded to the links below between 9 a.m., Monday, August 17 and 11:55 p.m., Sunday, August 23.
  • Audition dates for Spring 2021: December 7 – December 10 [specific schedule coming soon]

Students can audition only once per instrument in an audition cycle. The panel, consisting of applied instrument and conducting faculty members, will determine ensemble placement for each auditionee. Results will be definitive and announced by Ensemble Coordinators via email after the audition cycle is completed.

On the audition day, upon arrival, students should check in with the audition proctor, located outside the audition room. Warm-up spaces will be available and clearly indicated. There will be a copy of the chosen excerpts clearly marked in the audition order. These will be posted both on the door and inside the audition room. All auditions are blind (meaning the panel will not see the person auditioning and vice versa). Auditionees should not speak once they enter the audition room; if you have a question or concern, communicate with the proctor (who may be sitting just outside the room).

Coming soon

All Music majors, (and non-majors wishing to be considered for Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble)  must prepare and perform the audition repertoire.

NON-music majors wishing to be considered for only Concert Band should prepare the Concert Band Audition Repertoire. These auditions are not behind a screen.

FALL 2020 JAZZ ENSEMBLE AUDITIONS: More information coming soon

Jazz ensembles auditions for all music majors (jazz and other MWSoM majors): Coming soon

Jazz ensemble auditions for all non-music majors: Coming soon

Ensemble placements are for the full academic year. There are no regularly scheduled spring semester auditions, except in the occasional cases of specific vacancies.

Music majors: sign up for your instrument/section below (Sign-ups coming soon)
Woodwinds and Brass
Rhythm Section

Non-music majors: sign up for your instrument below (Sign-ups coming soon)
Trumpets and Trombone
Drums and Bass
Piano, Guitar, and all other instruments

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.

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).

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.

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 performingorgs@music.wisc.edu or (608) 263-1770.

Wisconsin Singers Band Auditions: Visit www.wisconsinsingers.com for updated information

AUDITION NOW for the 2020–2021 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 2020–2021 season will be held in spring 2020 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.