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Below are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the CYS audition process. These answers will provide you with a good idea of what to expect at CYS auditions, whether it is a live audition or a video submission.

Am I eligible to audition?

  • While there is no minimum age requirement, most members are between the ages of 6 to 19. Our programs are open to students of high school age and younger. Individual audition appointments are made year-round, based upon openings in the program(s). Candidates must study with a private teacher and have had at least one year of lessons to be considered for placement.

Do I need an accompanist?

  • No. Video must be unaccompanied.

Are parents or other adults allowed to be in the video recording?

  • Because we are simulating a live audition, parents (nor anyone else) are not to be included in the video recording. Parents may record the video, of course, but they cannot be physically in the video.
  • For percussion auditions, only CYS audition volunteers are allowed inside the audition room.

May I break out the Audition Video into two segments, one video for the piece and one video for the scales? If not, why not?

  • No. Stopping and starting between segments is considered as "editing" your video and this is NOT allowed. Do not start and stop the camera in the middle of a video. Audition videos must be shot in one continuous take (without a break) and include all of the requirements for your instrument in the order they are listed. Audition videos may not last longer than 5 minutes. The required audition order and suggested timings are as follows:
    • Introduction ~10-15 seconds - Look at the camera when you introduce yourself. Begin your video by saying, "Hello!", then state your name, instrument, the number of years you have played your instrument, and the title and composer of your piece, concerto, or excerpt. If playing more than one excerpt, please state the title and composer for each excerpt and play in the order you announced.
    • Solo Piece ~4 minutes - Play your prepared piece or study that best demonstrates your current ability level.
    • Scale(s) ~40 seconds - Play the required scale(s) for the ensemble
    • "Thank you" ~2 seconds - Say, "thank you!"
  • The continuous, unedited video submission best simulates a live audition. 
  • Applicants whose video shows evidence of any cuts, splicing, manipulation of pitch, or other alteration will be subject to disqualification.

What should I play for my audition?

  • "A piece that best demonstrates your current ability level..." does not mean the most difficult work that you can "sort of" play right now. Be realistic about the music you will play for your audition. Your choice of piece will not affect which ensemble you are placed in (or not placed in). There is no reward in presenting poorly played renditions of difficult works, nor does it do any good to spend three months trying to learn a work that is beyond your ability level.  The goal of the audition is to demonstrate that you can play your instrument at a high level, demonstrating strong proficiency in the technical ability, tone quality, and musical demands of the music that you choose to present.

My audition piece is over 4 minutes long. What do you suggest I play during those 4 minutes?

  • Choose a musically satisfying excerpt from the concerto that fits within the allowed time frame.
  • Though not necessary, you may skip to different sections or movements of your concerto or piece to demonstrate proficiency with playing slow and fast passages.
    • If dividing your piece into sections, allow at least 1.5 to 2 minutes to play each section.
    • Prepare your sheet music in advance so that you spend less time turning the pages of your music.
    • Please be sure to announce you are skipping to a different section during your introduction.
  • Again, the goal of the audition is to demonstrate that you can play your instrument at a high level, demonstrating strong proficiency in the technical ability, tone quality, and musical demands of the music that you choose to present.

May I use a video from my previous recital?

  • No. Audition videos must be shot in one continuous take (without a break) and must include all of the requirements for your instrument in the order they are listed. Audition videos may not last longer than 5 minutes.

Who will review my video audition? 

  • For current CYS members, your audition notice will indicate the conductor who will review your audition video.
  • For new members, your audition may be reviewed by any number of conductors based on your application and what you present. 
    • Regardless of who adjudicates the audition, proceed with preparing the audition requirements for the program you wish to be considered.

How do you suggest we prepare?

  • Practice, and More Practice. Understand the requirements for your audition and the audition video needs, and practice the music and the scales you’ll be performing as far in advance as possible.
  • Practice everything - including scales - as if you are performing.
    • Playing for people is one of the important techniques in preparing for a successful audition. 
    • Mental practice, or visualization, is another powerful practicing technique, and may be as effective as physical practice.  Combined together, mental and physical practice are incredible.
  • Film often. Watch and listen to your video before submission, checking for audio levels and visual presentation of the video overall.
    • When filming, practice from your introduction through the "thanks".
      • Write out your introduction and practice saying it in front of the camera.
      • Prepare your sheet music in advance.
  • Don’t wait until a few days before filming to become familiar with the pieces you’ll be playing. An audition video conveys all sorts of subtle clues to the viewers, and if you haven’t prepared properly, it will be evident. Showing that you’ve taken the audition seriously goes a long way towards creating a positive impact.
  • Plan ahead, especially if you have trips or other events planned during the time frame the video submission is due.  Applicants may submit their audition video BEFORE the deadline but NOT AFTER the deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted and reminders will not be sent.

Do I need a private teacher to participate in CYS?

  • Yes. Please be sure you know the full name of your private teacher! It is quite shocking to a conductor when a student comes in, having studied an instrument for several years, and the student has absolutely no idea whatsoever who their teacher is! If you have not provided the full name of your private teacher on your audition form, please be sure to update your audition form.

Am I allowed to resubmit a new video AFTER submitting my original video?

  • In order to best simulate a live audition, ONLY ONE submission is allowed. You may not submit a new video after the deadline. This would be considered a re-audition, otherwise.
  • Please do not ask for a re-audition (i.e. submitting a new video after the deadline has passed) as this is not permitted. Understand that it is impossible for our conductors to re-audition students. TIP: Take several takes of your entire audition and choose the best recording!

 May I switch to a LIVE audition from a VIDEO audition, or vice versa?

  • No. This year, CYS will continue to hold the audition process online by having all applicants submit an unedited video audition. We have determined that this will give applicants greater flexibility in submitting their best audition, and aid in the efforts of reducing potential exposure to COVID-19. Should you have concerns about this, please contact
  • PERCUSSIONISTS will audition in person. Please refer to the Percussion Audition application for more info.

Should I memorize the music?

  • If you would like to memorize your solos, you are more than welcome to do so; however, memorization is not required.

​What should I wear?

  • Please dress comfortably, but professionally for the video. You want the viewer to listen to your playing. Nice business casual, or the same thing you would wear to a classical music performance.

How many people are applying?

  • There has been a steady increase of applicants over the years. Last year, over 400 applicants auditioned for our seven CYS programs.

How and when will I hear from you about the results?

  • All audition results (for current members & new applicants) will be emailed in late April. All auditioning students will receive correspondence, regardless of outcome. Be sure to enter your email address correctly on your Audition Application Form. If you have any changes to your application, please edit your audition form online. Remember to keep your username and password in a safe place. If you lost your login credentials, please email

What is my result based on?

  • When you receive your audition results, please know that we make decisions about placement after thoroughly considering every aspect of your skills and the number of openings we have or may offer. Based on what you have presented, we will recommend that you join the ensemble where you will have the best opportunity to succeed, should spaces allow.

Will I receive comments about my audition?

  • Due to the volume of applications and limited time for review, CYS will not provide audition comments for applicants.
  • Percussion candidates may request feedback.

Does CYS offer tuition assistance?

  • Yes, we have limited funds available for tuition assistance. The tuition assistance application is linked in the "Tuition Information" tab in the side column. Please see the application for requirements, and see the "Important Dates and Deadlines" section of the "Audition Information" tab for the application due date.

When will I hear about waiting list updates?

  • If you have been placed on the waiting list, please understand we still need to wait several weeks before we can figure out the true disposition of the ensembles (i.e. who is not returning, who accepts positions, etc.) before we can review or discuss any possible advancements.

Do you accept membership auditions for piano, saxophone, or euphonium?

  •  CYS does not accept membership auditions for piano, as we are most fortunate to have many of our musicians in the orchestra play piano as a secondary instrument and who offer to play the orchestral parts when required. Should the need arise, however, we will open auditions for this instrument.

    • Our Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony programs accept auditions for saxophone and euphonium. For our CYS orchestras, repertoire is limited for these instruments. Should the need arise, we will open auditions for these instruments.

Will CYS require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to participate in its programs and attend in-person events and performances?

  • CYS strongly encourages all eligible participants, soloists, directors, staff, and audience members stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination, including the initial series and all relevant boosters. We do not require proof of vaccination.

Will CYS require musicians, staff, and audience members to wear masks indoors?

  • No. All musicians, staff, volunteers, and audience members are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when indoors and around others, regardless of vaccination status.

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