Auditions

Admission into the Cal Poly concert band program is determined through a relaxed audition process administered at the beginning of the fall quarter. All students who have experience performing in a wind ensemble or symphonic band, regardless of major, are encouraged to schedule an audition.

It is common for new students to be nervous about their first audition. However, Cal Poly has a long tradition of serving performers from all musical backgrounds. There are members of the Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra with a wide range of ability and experience levels, including many that never performed an audition until their first quarter as a university student. The directors strive to accomodate all students and will work hard to make sure that you feel comfortable and relaxed during your audition.

Audition Scheduling

Auditions for the Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra will be held during the first 10 days of the fall quarter. This page will be updated with detailed instructions on how to register for an audition by mid-August.

Audition Information

For the performance component of the audition, students are asked to select TWO excerpts from the music provided below. For woodwind, brass, and string players, one excerpt should feature lyrical playing while the other should showcase technical ability. For percussionists, the two excerpts should be on different instruments (snare drum and timpani, timpani and mallets, or snare drum and mallets.) Performers have the option to bring a third selection of their own choosing; however, the first two excerpts performed during the audition must be selected from the sheet music provided here. (Please note that a third selection is not required.)

Notes:
  1. The two excerpts performed during the audition are entirely the decision of the student performer. The director will not ask to hear anything else from the audition packets.
  2. Flutists who are interested in performing on piccolo should prepare a an additional excerpt to be performed during their audition. The piccolo excerpt should be selected from this audition packet.
  3. Anyone interested in auditioning on harp or piano should contact Dr. McMahan for more information on audition policies for these instruments.

School Instruments

Cal Poly maintains an inventory of high-quality instruments for use by students. This is especially useful for performers of the larger (or more expensive) instruments such as tuba, euphonium, and bassoon; however, it is also a great resource for great players who relied on high-quality, school-owned instruments while in high school.

Students who need an instrument for auditions should contact Dr. McMahan as soon as possible. An instrument will be provided for the audition, and then permanently checked-out for those students selected to participate in one of the concert bands. (Note: Students who need to use a school instrument are encouraged to sign-up for one of the later audition appointments in order to have as much practice time as possible on their new instrument.)

Schedule

All students interested in learning more about the bands are strongly encouraged to attend an informational meeting on Monday, September 18 at 7:10 p.m. This meeting, which takes place in our rehearsal room (216), will provide prospective members with an opportunity to meet all returning students and learn a lot more about our concert band program. (Instruments are not required for this meeting.)

Audition results, including ensemble and chair assignments, will be distributed via email after auditions have concluded.

Rehearsals will begin on Monday evening, September 25.

Class Enrollment

Students participating in our performing ensembles receive one unit of academic credit by enrolling in either MU 172 (Wind Orchestra) or MU 173 (Wind Ensemble).

It is not necessary to enroll in either course at this time. Once audition results have been announced, members will be given instructions on how to add the class (online) with a permission number provided by the directors.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I have been playing for years, but I have never performed an audition. Do you have any advice?

    It is very common for new students to perform their very first audition here at Cal Poly. We are a very welcoming program, and are interested in meeting players at all levels of experience and ability. The audition packets are designed to provide an excerpt appropriate for every performer, from those who have taken lessons throughout high school to those talented and motivated players who only performed in their school band.

    If you are new to auditioning, the best advice would be to choose excerpts that are good for you. Also, make sure that you have taken time to practice (the greatest source of anxiety during auditions is a lack of preparation; if you are prepared, you will be a lot less nervous!) Finally, remember that the person hearing your audition genuinely wants for you to succeed and do well. The goal of an audition is to learn about you as a person and as a performer; it is not intended to be stressful or intimidating.

    If you have questions about your excerpts (rhythms, notation, etc.), please feel free to stop by the band office (room 214A) at any point during auditions. One of the directors can easily answer your question between auditions.

  2. What should I wear for the audition?

    There are no requirements with regard to attire during auditions. However, presenting a good image of yourself does have a positive impact upon the person hearing your audition. Our advice would be to go the middle route: clean casual or business casual with good personal grooming and hygiene.

  3. There are so many excerpts in my packet! How do I know which ones to choose?

    We wanted our audition packets to have “something for everyone”. To that end, we have included a large number of excerpts from which you need only choose two. Obviously, the first time you look through the packet it may seem a bit overwhelming. However, if you spend some time looking through every selection carefully, the right ones for you should become obvious. Simply pick the excerpts which you feel best highlights your skills as a performer.

    Please keep in mind that there are no wrong choices and the directors will never ask you to play anything in the packet other than your two choices.

  4. Is each page (in the audition packet) a single excerpt? Or, are there multiple excerpts per page?

    Excerpts vary widely with regard to length. Therefore, there are several instances in which there are two or three excerpts printed on a single page. Generally speaking, it should be very obvious as to the beginning and end of a single excerpt. However, if you need clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. McMahan. (Please include theinstrument and page number within the audition packet along with your question.)

  5. Where can I practice once I am at Cal Poly?

    The Music Building has several practice rooms on the first floor. Generally speaking, these rooms are available for use by all students. As you might imagine, it gets fairly busy in the practice rooms during the academic work day; however, if you come by early in the morning or late in the evening, you should have no trouble finding an available practice room. (Please note that the Music Building is open until approximately 10:00 p.m. most nights.)

    You may also use these rooms to warm-up prior to your audition. If none are available before your audition, please see one of the directors in room 214A and they will find you an alternative location.

  6. Do you have any general audition advice?

    Generally speaking, the best advice is to “be yourself” and “be prepared”. Although very simple and straightforward, if you can manage to fulfill both those ideals, you will have a wonderful audition.

    Eric Hoover, Past President of the National Flute Association, also provided some general advice that would benefit anyone performing an audition (from middle school to the professional level.)

    • Practice with a metronome
    • At the site. . .warm-up alone and do not listen to other players
    • Think highly of your playing. If you don't respect your musicianship, no one else will
    • Demonstrate your ability to communicate musically
    • Maintain a positive appearance even if you do not play well
    • Demonstrate that you are a good colleague as well as a good musician
    • Show confidence without being cocky

Final Thoughts

If you have not already done so, please fill out our Online Interest Form. This form will provide us with the information necessary to keep you informed regarding such things as audition logistics, scheduling, and other important news about the Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra.

Students new to Cal Poly are also encouraged to read through this document, which contains additional information regarding our band program.


Back to top

Upcoming Events

Performance Calendar

Student Spotlight

Would you like to know more?

All prospective and current Cal Poly students interested in joining the Wind Ensemble or Wind Orchestra should fill out our Online Interest Form.

We enjoy meeting new students and encourage you to send an email if you have any questions or plan to visit campus. Contact information for directors and all band faculty and staff can be found on our contacts page.