Letter of Invitation

As a new student here at Cal Poly, the next few years could easily be the most memorable of your life. The instrumental music ensembles at Cal Poly encourage academic excellence and offer students the opportunity to experience the rewards and personal satisfaction that result from artistic accomplishment. As a woodwind, brass, or percussion performer, we have a place for you!

It is our sincere hope that you will join us. We take pride in the range and breadth of students participating in our band program, most of whom are not even music majors. We have designed an experience that allows for Cal Poly students to be involved in music while not compromising the time to be successful in their major area of study. With these considerations, along with the lifelong friends that always come with being ‘in band,’ I have no doubt that you will consider the choice to be a part of our musical family one of your best.

In addition to this letter, we have included a few of facts and questions often asked by students who are interested in being a part of the Wind Band program. However, please feel free to ask your own questions. I am always eager to meet new students – so, please do not hesitate to email me if you have anything you might wish to ask. My ‘virtual door’ is always open.

Finally, it is important that you fill-out the Online Interest Form. This form does not indicate a commitment, it only provides us with your name, instrument, and contact information so that we can provide you with dates/times for auditions as well as other important information that will help finalize your decision as to whether you decide to be a member of the Wind Orchestra/Wind Ensemble this next term.

Otherwise, I appreciate your time in reading through these pages and I hope we have a chance to meet at some point in the future. We are very proud of our band program and hope that you take this wonderful opportunity to make music while a student here at Cal Poly.

All the best,

Christopher J. Woodruff
Director of Bands

Nicholas P. Waldron
Associate Director of Bands

Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra

Cal Poly maintains two full concert bands, the Wind Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble. Both groups include a full wind band instrumentation and perform the finest literature written for the medium. Similar to most university band programs, participation in these two groups is determined through an informal and low-stress audition. Both ensembles perform on the same evening concerts 3-5 times a year in Harold Miossi Hall of the Performing Arts Center on campus.

With CD recordings and international tours, our instrumental ensembles have established a wide reputation for musical excellence and often receive invitations to perform both in the U. S. and in other countries at music festivals and conventions. The Cal Poly bands recently toured Ireland, Scotland and England, performing in Dublin, Manchester, and London. In 2006, the Cal Poly Wind Ensemble toured central Europe performing in major concert halls in Budapest, Vienna, Schladming, Salzburg, Munich and Prague. In the past, the groups have performed in Beethoven Hall in Tokyo, Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Michael Fowler Centre in New Zealand, the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 2007, we hosted a national convention of the American Bandmasters Association and performed the opening concert. On June 22, 2010, the Wind Ensemble performed as the "Showcase Concert" in the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles) as a part of the Los Angeles International Music Festival.

In 2022, the Wind Ensemble travelled to Tacoma, Washington to perform for the College Band Directors National Association conference there.

The concert dates for this year have already been established and should be one of the most exciting ever produced at Cal Poly.


  • Auditions
    • Auditions for both ensembles will be held at the beginning of the Fall quarter.
    • Auditions are designed to give the directors the opportunity to know you on a personal basis, and to determine how to make you a better performer. It is also to decide which ensemble is best for you and to determine which chair position you will hold for the fall quarter.
    • Please visit the audition page for more detailed information. There you will find audition repertoire, a complete schedule, information regarding the use of school instruments for auditions, and a list of frequently asked questions.
  • First Meeting
    • The first meeting will be held on Monday, September 19, at 7:10 p.m. in room 216 in the Music Building. This meeting will be an informational meeting only (no instruments required) and will be for all students involved both the Wind Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble.
  • Wind Orchestra
    • Course Number: MU 172-01
    • Rehearsal Times:
      • Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:10 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
  • Wind Ensemble
    • Course Number: MU 173-01
    • Rehearsal Times:
      • Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Instrumental Chamber Ensembles

Students can indicate interest in performing in a chamber ensemble on the Audition Form. After the audition process has completed, participation in one of our chamber music ensembles will be offered by invitation to those students chosen by the directors. In these groups, students have additional performance opportunities as a member of an ensemble such as woodwind quintet, saxophone quartet, clarinet ensemble, brass quintet, and brass choir.

These ensembles typically meet once a week and are coached by music department faculty. Course credit is available. There are two formal concerts each year for chamber music. However, other performance opportunities come up often for groups that work well together and build a solid repertoire base.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How does band look in this time of COVID-19?

    Faculty and staff are taking extensive steps to ensure everyone's safety and meet mitigation requirements according to State, County and the CSU.

  2. Now that I am in college, will I have time to be band?

    This is a very common question, especially for students who have recently graduated. In high school, most band students will spend one or two hours in band per day in school, multiple days after school in rehearsal, and then competitions and/or concerts on the weekends. Being in band at Cal Poly is not like this at all. You will only have rehearsals as they are marked on your class schedule (e.g., two days a week.) The only exceptions to this would be for wind orchestra/wind ensemble dress rehearsals and concerts.

    Most students will say that although academic work in college is sometimes more demanding (especially in the latter years,) the time consumption for activities such as band, clubs, and most general education classes is much less than what they experienced in high school.

  3. What kind of academic credit is offered for being in the Wind Orchestra or Wind Ensemble?

    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 important to enroll before ensemble assignments have been made. Once the auditions have been finalized (in mid-September), we will help you enroll in the proper course. (Note: You can enroll in courses well after the beginning of classes in September.) The only important thing, at this point, is that you keep Monday and Wednesday evenings free from other commitments.

  4. Can I be in more than one ensemble?

    Yes, of course you can! In fact, a large portion of the students involved in the band program are involved in more than one group. You will find that there are a large number of students that participate in both marching band and wind orchestra, for example. Both groups only meet twice a week and have a great tradition in cross-over in membership. So, having students in both groups simultaneously is very common.

  5. Does it cost anything to be in the Wind Ensemble or Wind Orchestra?

    There are no fees associated with being in the Wind Ensemble or Wind Orchestra. Obviously, you will have to purchase things such as reeds, valve oil, etc., as well as keep your instrument in good repair. However, we do not have a membership fee or anything of that nature. We also do not have any sort of required music fee.

    The only other cost that might be incurred would be the purchase of our formal black attire. We wear the traditional "concert black" attire. (It is perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit you wore in high school as long as it meets our requirements.)

  6. Does the Wind Ensemble/Wind Orchestra travel?

    The bands at Cal Poly perform a major tour every few years. In fact, since 2000 the bands have traveled to Australia, Central Europe, England, Ireland, New York City (to perform in Carnegie Hall), Scotland, and Los Angeles (to perform in Disney Hall.) You can read all about these trips on our ‘past tours’ webpage.

  7. What if I’m not sure and need time to see if being in band at Cal Poly is right for me?

    It is our firm belief that being in band, as a new student, is one of the best decisions you could make. It provides you with an instant network of friends and colleagues that can assist and support you as you start this new phase of your life. It sounds a bit clich√©, but it’s true!

    That being said, it is very common for new students to be apprehensive about making a commitment to participating in a college band program. However, you should put your mind at ease on this subject – there are plenty of opportunities for you to bow out gracefully if you find that it is not for you. Moreover, no one here (whether it is faculty, staff, or student leaders,) will ever think less of someone in that situation.

    Finally, you will find that the band directors at Cal Poly are persons with whom you can come with any issues, problems, or concerns. We believe in the value of the individual student and will be happy to help you with anything we can, even if it means saying goodbye.

  8. Everything sounds too good to be true. Is it possible to speak with a student about their experiences one-on-one?

    Absolutely! All of the bands at Cal Poly have a very strong student leadership program and these students would be more than welcome to share their experiences with you. Simply mention in your email that you would like to have a private conversation with a student leader or section leader, and we will put you in touch with someone. It may even be possible to put you in contact with someone in your major!

  9. I do not own an instrument. Are there instruments for me to use at Cal Poly?

    The Cal Poly band program is proud to maintain a very large inventory of instruments for student use. All are professional model and of the highest quality.

    The fee for renting an instrument is only $20 and includes a locker for storage. Please see the Music Department Handbook for additional information.

  10. I've decided that I want to join this quarter! What do I do next?

    First, it is important that you fill-out the Online Interest Form. This form does not indicate a commitment, it only provides us with your name, instrument, and contact information so that we can provide you with dates/times for auditions as well as other important information that will help finalize your decision as to whether you decide to be a member of the Wind Orchestra/Wind Ensemble this next term.

    If you have any other questions, or if you need an immediate response, please do not hesitate to send an email.

Stay Connected

Please visit our Online Interest Form. This form will provide us with the information necessary to keep you informed with regard to dates/times for auditions as well as other news about the upcoming Wind Orchestra/Wind Ensemble season.

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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.