College Auditions – the DOs and the DON’Ts

So you’ve decided you want to major in music – congratulations! Being a music major isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve decided it’s a good fit for you, your next step is…. college auditions!

“Audition” can be a scary word. It means putting yourself, your talent, and most importantly your hard work out there for someone else to judge and decide whether to accept you into their program. But with the right preparation, you don’t have to dread the process! Here are some “do”s and some “don’t”s of preparing to audition for a college piano program.


  • Plan ahead. Audition dates range from December to April depending on the school, so make sure you start practicing in time to learn your pieces before your first audition. Some programs will require you to submit a pre-screening recording before the live audition. If you’re auditioning for a program far away from where you live, find out if they will accept a recorded audition or if you’ll have to travel to the school.
  • Find out what the requirements are of the school(s) you are applying to. While there are some standards, each program will ask for slightly different things. (Click here to download a table of audition requirements for most Utah schools: college-requirements) If you plan well, you can probably choose one program of repertoire that will fit the requirements of all the schools you’d like to audition at.
  • Pick repertoire that is difficult enough to meet the school’s requirements, but not so difficult that you can’t play it well. A slightly easier piece played flawlessly will usually leave a better impression than a difficult piece with lots of mistakes.
  • Find out what else the program looks for in a potential candidate – do they require you to sightread, take an aural skills exam, or play technical exercises? Start preparing in those areas well ahead of time.
  • Find and work with an experienced, well-qualified teacher. Your best bet is to work with someone who has one or more degrees in music because they have firsthand experience with both the audition process and with what it takes to be a college music major. (Eight of our current Piano Academy faculty have at least a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and would love to help you start preparing for an audition!)
  • Practice performing as much as possible! The more you are used to playing for other people and dealing with performance anxiety, the calmer you will be when you get to the audition.


  • …. Procrastinate. You want to feel confident, calm, and prepared when you go to your audition(s). That won’t happen if you only finished memorizing your music the week before!
  • …. Assume you will get in because people tell you that you are talented or you like playing the piano. You have to put in the work! Good music programs are very selective, and talent without hard work won’t be enough to wow an audition panel.
  • …. Choose music outside of the suggested repertoire just because it’s popular or fun. Jon Schmidt’s “All of Me” or an arrangement of “Radioactive” might be your favorite, but it’s not the appropriate difficulty or genre for this type of audition.
  • …. Compare yourself to others. While you may be competing with some of your peers for a spot in any given program, mentally comparing yourself to them will only distract you from doing your best.
  • …. Limit yourself! If you’re willing to do the work and use the resources you have, you can achieve amazing things! Don’t skip applying to a top-notch program just because you’re worried you won’t get in. “Shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!”

Preparing for an audition is a lot of work, but if music is your calling it’s so worth the effort! Here at the Piano Academy, we teach students from beginner to advanced, all the way up to college audition level. Over the years many Piano Academy students have auditioned and been accepted to piano programs at BYU, the University of Utah, and Utah State University, among others. If you or someone you know is interested in majoring in music, come talk to us! It’s never too early to start preparing!