THE UNDERGRADUATE AUDITION PROCESS
Your Western Michigan University application will be processed by the undergraduate admissions office. Acceptance is based on things like your grade point average, class standing and test scores (ACT or SAT).
In addition to acceptance into WMU, entrance into the School of Music requires that you audition for the piano faculty. Auditions typically occur at one of four New Student Admission Days. Spring semester auditions are typically held in November, while students planning to enroll during the fall semester audition at one of three dates in January and February. If it's impossible for you to attend one of the admission days, it may be possible to arrange a separate audition by contacting Professor Sims. However auditioning at one of the four dates is your best option, since you will have the opportunity to tour the facility, hear many of the ensembles and attend meetings related to your major. While recordings are accepted on rare occasions, a live audition is strongly encouraged.
The audition determines:
- Performance level of each student.
- Piano studio music scholarship awards (see scholarship opportunities below).
Keep in mind that the audition is where you demonstrate your performance ability. This is where we determine whether your background and abilities are at a level where you can succeed as a music major. Acceptance varies from year to year, depending on the number of studio openings and the level of competition.
Studio Piano Auditions
Auditions on New Student Audition Day are typically scheduled in 15 minute intervals, and there is also a 20 minute meet-the-faculty meeting, which provides an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the program. Students auditioning for the Piano Performance program should prepare three memorized pieces: one from the Baroque era, one from the Romantic era or 20th century, and a movement of a Classical sonata (Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven). Students auditioning on piano for other School of Music programs (Music Therapy, Music Education, Jazz Performance, Composition) should prepare two memorized pieces, including at least one from the Baroque or Classical era.
Jazz Piano Auditions
Jazz pianists must also audition for the classical faculty. Plan to prepare two memorized pieces, including at least one from the Baroque or Classical era. In addition, pianists auditioning for the jazz curriculum should prepare the following:
- A piece of your choice in 12-bar blues form (such as Billie's Bounce or Straight, No Chaser) with two or three improvised choruses to follow;
- A jazz standard of your choice (such as Autumn Leaves, All the Things You Are, Oleo) with improvised choruses to follow;
- Sight reading of jazz pieces;
For more information regarding the jazz program, visit the Jazz Area website.
Prospective organ students may audition on either organ or piano. Three pieces are recommended: one Baroque or Classical, one Romantic, and a third from any period. Playing at least one of the pieces from memory is encouraged, and sight-reading skills are an asset. A previous introduction to organ is beneficial but not required.
Other Audition Information
Another part of the New Student Audition Day process is the Basic Music Qualifying Exam. The exam covers three components to the exam:
- Written theory tests basic rudiments of key signatures, scales, intervals, triads, and time signatures
- Aural identification includes multiple choice questions identifying intervals, triads, short melodies, and rhythms
- Aural performance includes singing major and minor scales, matching pitches, call and response melody and rhythm, and basic melodic and rhythmic sight reading.
Although the performance on your major instrument is the most important part of the audition process, the test results may be considered as acceptance decisions are made.
Audition results are typically announced after the final audition in March. Therefore there is no advantage to auditioning earlier rather than later. Once the results are announced, you may expect to be notified with one of three possible decisions:
- Accepted—You may begin course work as a music major.
- Waiting list—Your audition qualified you for acceptance, but enrollment limitations in the studio have resulted in the need to create a waiting list for admission. Your name is now part of that list and, when space becomes available, you will be notified of your acceptance to the major.
- Not accepted—This is an indication that we feel you will not be successful in our music curriculum. You may not begin course work as a music major at this time, however you may audition again at a later date. Students may audition a maximum of two times for any studio.
A number of scholarship or funding opportunities exist for entering freshmen. Several of these opportunities include:
- Piano studio awards—At the audition, each student will be considered for a piano studio scholarship. These are competitive awards given for up to four years.
- Jazz scholarships—Students auditioning for the Jazz Area will automatically be considered for a jazz award. For more information about Jazz Area piano scholarships, contact Professors Scott Cowan or Matthew Fries.
- WMU Academic Scholarships—WMU offers a number of outstanding academic awards for incoming freshmen, the most notable of which is the Medallion Scholarship. These awards are available for both in-state and out-of-state students, and some can cover a substantial part of your tuition and/or expenses. For more information, see Freshmen Scholarships.