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, 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?

  • Stopping and starting between segments is NOT allowed. 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 suggested timing and order of the audition should be as follows:
    • ~10-15 seconds - Begin your video by saying, "Hello!", then stating your name, your instrument, the number of years you have played your instrument, and the title and composer of your piece/concerto/excerpt. If playing more than one excerpt, please state the title and composer for each excerpt and play in the order you announced. Look at the camera when you introduce yourself!
    • ~4 minutes - Play your prepared piece or study that best demonstrates your current ability level. (Refer to Help & Hints page)
    • ~40 seconds - Play the required scale for the conductor/ensemble you are auditioning for
    • Say, "thank you!"
  • The continuous, unedited video submission best simulates a live audition. Thus, creating separate videos for the prepared piece and required scales would result in "editing" of the video.
  • Applicants whose video shows evidence of any cuts, splicing, manipulation of pitch, or other alteration will be subject to disqualification.

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 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 for him/her.

May I use a video from my previous recital?

  • No. Please refer to the previous answer. 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? And what are the Audition Requirements?

  • Your audition notice will indicate the conductor(s) who will review your audition video.
  • Once you receive your audition notice, check the Audition Requirements page for a complete list of requirements for the Conductor/CYS program that you have been assigned.
    • You will the requirements in the order you see on the requirements page; that is, prepared piece, then scales.

What happens if I have been assigned to a Conductor/Ensemble that I am not interested in?

  • CYS has made the decision on which CYS music director will adjudicate your audition. Please note that this may be different from the request noted in your application form.
    • Regardless of who adjudicates the audition, if your intention is to audition for a different CYS program but have been assigned to a different conductor, you may proceed with preparing the audition requirements for the program you wish to be considered.

How do you suggest we prepare?

  • Practice, and More Practice. Once you know the audition requirements and the requirements your audition video needs, you should 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, visual 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 on 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 time frame but NOT AFTER the time frame. Late submissions will not be accepted and reminders will not be sent.

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

  • No. In order to best simulate a live audition, ONLY ONE submission is allowed. This would be considered a re-audition, otherwise.

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

  • No. This year, in consideration of recommendations by the CDC and several county health agencies with regard to coronavirus (COVID-19), CYS has decided to change the audition process this year from scheduling live auditions to having all applicants submit an unedited video audition. We have determined that not only will this aid in the efforts of reducing potential exposure, but it will also give applicants greater flexibility in submitting their best audition. 
  • PERCUSSIONISTS will continue with live auditions, as auditions involve sight-reading and percussion instruments may not easily be accessible for each applicant.
    • Out-of-state or out-of-area applicants planning to move to the Bay Area next season may be allowed to submit a video audition, upon approval. Please contact CYSAuditions@cys.org if you have any questions.

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 eight CYS programs.

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

  • All audition results (for current members & new applicants) will be mailed via USPS in May. 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 update your audition form and email to CYSAuditions@cys.org or notify the CYS office immediately at 650-325-6666
    • Please allow 2-3 business days for mail to arrive before contacting the CYS office for a copy of your results.

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.
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