For Musicians

Audition FAQs

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.

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.

Where are the auditions held and when should I arrive?

  • Auditions may be held in several campus in the Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mt. View, or Redwood City area. Percussion auditions are held at Almond Elementary School in Los Altos. Occasionally, auditions will be conducted at one of the CYS rehearsal locations, either Almond Elementary School or Santa Rita Elementary School in Los Altos.
  • Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before your audition time. Make sure you allow yourself extra travel time to find parking, find the building, unpack your instrument, have a brief warm-up before your audition, and be placed in the waiting area prior to your scheduled time (five minutes prior to your audition time). Be aware of possible traffic or weather delays.

Are there warm-up rooms available at the audition site?

  • Yes. There is one large communal warm-up room. Please visit the check-in table and we will direct you to a warm-up room. Please keep in mind that you will be sharing your warm-up space with others. 

What is the audition like? What will I play, who will I play for, and for how long?

  • Five minutes prior to your audition time, a volunteer will escort you to your audition. The volunteer will hand you the audition form to give to the music director. We do not audition behind screens. Please kindly greet the music director upon entering and delivering your audition form. 
  • Auditions run a total of 5 minutes for each applicant. You will be asked to first play your prepared solo piece, followed by scales appropriate to your instrument. Questions may also be asked at the end of your auditions. You may be asked to play for any of the three CYS music directors.
  • It is a good idea to practice the timing of your audition to fit your solo piece and scales.  Please be sure to check the Audition Requirements page for a complete list of requirements for each CYS program. All auditions are unaccompanied. Parents are not allowed in the audition room. 
  • During your audition, you may be stopped by the music director and asked to go on to another solo or excerpt. This is common and does not reflect upon your performance. You may also be asked a few questions about yourself, your ensemble experience, and your private instruction studies. 
  • There are no additional panel members to listen to your audition other than the music director of the CYS program you are auditioning for. On rare occasions, you may be asked to audition for a different music director on that same day. We kindly ask for your flexibility. 

Should I memorize the music? Do I need to provide a copy of my solo part to the music director?

  • If you would like to memorize your solos, you are more than welcome to do so; however, memorization is not required.
  • You do not need to provide a copy of your solo part. 

​What should I wear?

  • Wear casual clothing that is comfortable for you to perform in. Remember that this is the first impression you will make on those who will evaluate you. It is also a good idea to practice in the clothes you are planning to wear at least once before your audition.

How many people are applying?

  • There has been a steady increase of applicants over the years. Last year, over 700 applicants auditioned for our eight CYS programs. There are some great openings for this coming season and we look forward to seeing you in April!

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

  • All audition results (for current members & new applicants) will be mailed at the beginning of May via USPS. All auditioning students will receive correspondence, regardless of outcome. Be sure to enter your mailing address correctly on your Audition Registration Form. If you have any changes to your address, please notify the CYS office immediately.

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 this instrument. Should the need arise, we will open auditions for this instrument.
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