Music Auditions & Talent Awards Information

Music major candidates must complete an audition to be accepted into the Department of Music, and to be considered for a Talent Award. Generous Talent Awards representing a combination of academic merit and musical talent are offered to select incoming Music majors. Non-Music majors are welcome and encouraged to participate in our ensembles and to study applied music with our distinguished faculty; a limited number of Participation Awards are available to non-music majors by audition. See below for more information.

Audition Information

You must complete an application to Otterbein before you may schedule an audition.  Please plan to be on campus from approximately 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on your audition day – you will have the opportunity to meet faculty and students, take a tour of campus, and join us for lunch in our Campus Center dining room.

Register for an Audition with the Department of Music >

2020 Audition Dates

  • Saturday, January 18
  • Saturday, February 8
  • Tuesday, February 18
  • Saturday, March 21

If you live too far from campus to audition in person, a video or audio-taped audition will be given careful consideration.

Audition Information for Music Minors

Auditions are not necessary for students who wish to receive a Music minor. Auditions are only required for prospective students who wish to receive a Participation Award. It is possible to complete coursework toward a Music minor without a Participation Award. However, applied instruction and ensemble participation are required of Music minors – most ensembles and instructors require a placement audition prior to the start of classes in the fall. Incoming freshmen will receive information at summer orientation regarding fall ensemble auditions.

Young Artist Scholarship

Otterbein University is offering a new scholarship opportunity, the Young Artist Scholarship, for music majors. This $30,000 competitive scholarship will go to up to five recipients per year and is renewable for four years (eight semesters) for students in good standing, maintaining a 3.0 GPA. To be considered for a Young Artist Scholarship, you must submit your application to Otterbein University by December 15, 2019. You must complete your music audition by Feb. 18th, 2020 to be considered for this award

Athletics Band Participation Award

The Athletic Bands Participation Award is designed to assist students who elect to commit to perform with Otterbein Athletic Bands. Award recipients receive $1,000 per year/$4,000 over four years.


Any incoming Otterbein student who performs on a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument as well as visual performers, including color guard and twirlers. You do not have to be a music major; our members represent almost every major and field of study on campus. All students must audition to be considered for the Athletic Bands Participation Award.

Audition Requirements for Athletic Band Participation Awards

All students must audition to be eligible for the Athletic Bands Participation Award. These auditions are for placement only and are not competitive.  If you are an instrumentalist, you may submit an mp3 recording of yourself playing your high school’s alma mater and fight song to Dr. Michael Yonchak for consideration.  Visual performers (color guard and twirlers) may have slightly different audition expectations due to the nature of these sections – contact Dr. Yonchak for more information.

Special Note:
Students who have already auditioned for a Talent Award as a woodwind or brass music major or for a non-music major Participation Award do not need to re-audition for the Athletic Bands award unless they intend to participate as a visual or percussion performer.

Music Participation Awards for Non-Majors

A limited number of participation awards are available to non-music majors (or music majors with a secondary instrument or voice) who would like to continue playing or singing while at Otterbein. Recipients are required to participate in University ensembles as assigned and to study on their instrument or voice through applied instruction (private lessons that incur an additional expense).


All instrumentalists and vocalists may audition. Priority will be given to fill critical needs as determined by the Department of Music.

Register for an audition here >

Award Criteria

Students should arrange an audition with the Department of Music after being accepted to the University.

Audition Requirements by Area

Please note:

  • In order to get as complete a musical profile as possible, auditionees also may be asked to sight read during the audition.
  • An accompanist will be provided when appropriate, or auditionees may bring their own accompanist.  Auditionees are strongly encouraged to provide original music for their accompanists at the audition. If originals are not available, please bring very clear, readable copies in correct page order in a 3-ring binder

Strings (Classical)

Strings (Classical)

Perform two contrasting selections demonstrating technical aspects (left hand accuracy, shifting and bowing skills) and expressive playing (bow control and vibrato) as well as general musicianship. String players should be prepared to perform major scales up to four sharps and four flats in two or three octaves. There may be sight reading. Additional information regarding the audition will be mailed with the audition confirmation letter.

Jazz Double Bass/Electric Bass

Jazz Double Bass/Electric Bass

Select a major scale (up to four sharps or four flats) in two or three octaves. Demonstrate your ability to walk a bass line to the 12 bar blues in Bb; improvise over the same. Perform one jazz tune walking to the changes and then perform an improvised solo. Suggested tunes: Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa, Blue Monk, Nowʼs the Time, Take the A Train, Body and Soul, Anthropology. Accompaniment by combo or CD is recommended but not required.

Guitar (Classical & Jazz)

Otterbein University Department of Music Audition Requirements for suitar students studying guitar at Otterbein will concentrate in either Classical Guitar (acoustic, nylon string, fingerstyle) or Jazz/Contemporary (electric) styles.

Classical Auditionees

  1. Scales: Any 2-octave major scales, using two different left hand fingering patterns.
    Quarter notes at mm=80, i-m alternation free stroke or rest stroke.
  2. Sightreading
  3. Two solo pieces, one from each of the lists below:
    List #1:
    • Number 3 or 7 from 25 Melodic and Progressive Studies, Op 60, by Matteo Carcassi
    • Number 8 or 17 from Exercises, Op 35 by Fernando Sor
    • Any of the 6 Pavanes by Luis Milan
    • Any movement from the J.S. Bach solo lute works (BWV 995-1000, 1006a) or ‘cello suite transcription

    List #2:

    • Number 1 or 6 from Etudes Sencillos by Leo Brouwer!
    • Any movement from 8 Discernments by Andrew York
    • Any of the solo guitar works by Heitor Villa-Lobos
    • Any of the Preludes by Manuel Ponce

Other comparable selections may be substituted with prior approval from the Department of Music.

Jazz/Contemporary Auditionees

  1. Scales: Any 2-octave major scales, using two different left hand fingering patterns.
    Quarter notes at mm=8
  2. Sightreading from a lead sheet, including melody and standard chord chart.
  3. Performance of a jazz tune with provided accompaniment, including melody, comping, and improvised solo.
    Suggested tunes:
    • Autumn Leaves
    • Blue Bossa
    • Blue Monk
    • Now’s the Time!!Take the A Train
    • Body and Soul!!Anthropology
    • See The Real Book, vol I 6th edition by Hal Leonard Publications edition for other choices, HL 240292
  4. Any selection from Jazz Guitar Standards Chord Melody Solos, by Mel Bay Publications, WMB011B CD.
    Transcriptions from Chet Atkins/Nashville styles, modern acoustic fingerstylists (Michael Hedges, Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour, etc.), or classical guitar repertoire (see choices above for Classical Auditionees) are also acceptable.

Guitar parts extracted from songs or original compositions are not acceptable.

Other comparable selections may be substituted with prior approval from the Department of Music.

Woodwinds & Brass (Classical)

Prepare two pieces (either two solos, or a solo and an etude.) in contrasting styles. All major scales and a two-octave chromatic scale, as well as sight-reading, will be part of the audition. Playing from memory is not required. At least one piece with accompaniment is encouraged, but not required. Additional information regarding auditions will be mailed with the audition confirmation letter.

Jazz Trombone

  1. Scales:  Any two major scales through 4 flats/4 sharps and a chromatic scale. Swing eight notes BPM=80 and two octaves where practical.
  2. One etude or transcription from one of the following:  Snidero – Jazz Conception, Berger – Contemporary Jazz Studies, or Leisenring/Butler – J.J. Johnson Solos
  3.  Statement of melody and two choruses of improvised solo on both of the following:  Tenor Madness (Sonny Rollins) or equivalent blues in concert Bb.  Minimum tempo of BPM = 144.  Blue Bossa (Kenny Dorham) at minimum tempo of BPM = 116

Jazz Saxophone

  • Chromatic scale demonstrating playable range of the instrument.
  • Two major scales that you can play 2 octaves or for the playable range of the instrument.
  •  Any two from the following list:
    •  Any of these titles;  Friends, Two Plus Two, Lunar, Bird Blues, Somewhere, or Passage, from Jim Snidero’s Jazz Conception etude book
    • Any full transcriptions from the Charlie Parker Omnibook.
    • Any etudes from Greg Fishman’s Jazz Etudes book.
  • Play the melody and improvise at least two choruses on Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham.  Lead sheets for Blue Bossa can be found in The Real Book published by Hal Leonard.  You must have accompaniment to satisfactorily perform Blue Bossa.  You may use either a prerecorded play along or a live accompanist.


Demonstrate ability in three of five percussion areas, i.e., snare drum, mallet percussion, timpani, drum set, multiple percussion.  At least one solo should be from the state music educators association solo contest list, highest class, or equivalent.  Memorization is not required.

  • If auditioning on snare drum or multiple percussion, please play three rudiments (slow-fast-slow):  one roll, one flam, one drag–your choice.
  • If auditioning on mallet percussion please play two major scales and associated arpeggio (two octaves up & down):  one from a sharp key, one from a flat key–your choice.
  • If auditioning on timpani please demonstrate your ability to tune drums:  gliss (on one drum) from G up to C (articulating both pitches), and (on a second drum), Eb down to Cb.
  • If auditioning on drum set please trade 4’s with yourself (4 bars of time, 4 bars of drum break) in jazz, rock and Latin styles.  Be prepared to sight read

Keyboard (Classical & Jazz)

Classical Keyboard

Two pieces, preferably memorized, in contrasting styles (for example, a Bach Prelude and Fugue and a movement of a classical sonata). A third contrasting piece is optional. All major and harmonic minor scales. Sightreading will be included in the audition. Please bring music resume and repertoire list.

Keyboard for Jazz Studies Concentration

Choose 2 Major and 2 harmonic minor scales: four octaves, hands together. Perform two prepared Jazz selections in contrasting styles (swing, Latin, ballad), which demonstrate the ability to play jazz melodies in the right hand and provide a jazz style accompaniment in the left hand (chord voicings, walking or stride bass). These selections must be memorized. Examples would be: Satin Doll, Take The “A” Train, Autumn Leaves, or other compositions from published jazz “fake” books. Additionally, please be prepared to perform a memorized blues composition that demonstrates the ability to improvise and a classical piano composition played form memory.

Musical theatre

See Theatre & Dance Department for more information. An audition for musical theatre will also qualify the auditionee for consideration as a music major.  However, students interested in being considered for the Bachelor of Music in Performance degree track must complete a separate music audition presenting classical repertory exclusively.


Prepare two memorized pieces in contrasting styles. One piece should be performed in a foreign language. Selections from the art song and operatic repertoires should be emphasized, although one folk song arrangement or musical theatre piece may be included. Students auditioning for the Bachelor of Music in Performance degree must present classical repertory.


Students interested in the music theory and composition concentration should plan to audition on their primary instrument or voice. In addition, they may submit a portfolio of original compositions prior to their audition for scholarship consideration.  Portfolios should consist of the following:

  1. Two or three pieces in varying styles and/or instrumentation that would provide an idea of compositional range.  Pieces without a score are acceptable (like a pop song or electronic composition), but please submit at least one piece that is written using standard musical notation.
  2. Please also provide recordings of these pieces when possible.  Live recordings are best, but MIDI playback is acceptable.

Send scores (PDF) and audio files (mp3) and direct any questions to Dr. Jennifer Merkowitz.

Remember, applicants must apply to the University before auditioning for the Department of Music.