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Entrance Audition Process

Entrance Audition Requirements and Guidelines

male-student-playing-bass-orchestra Photo by Tory Germann

UMass Lowell follows a unique audition process that allows prospective students a great deal of flexibility in determining how best to demonstrate musical potential. Each audition lasts approximately 15 minutes.

Candidates will be evaluated on musicality, expressiveness, technical fluency, musical fundamentals, and personal perspective as relates to:

  • Accomplishment and expertise in a particular instrumental or vocal area;
  • Potential for success in a music career.

Candidates are especially encouraged to display artistry within areas of significant individual interest.

All students - both instrumental and vocal - will be asked for the following:

1. Scales - demonstrate major and harmonic minor scales

Students will be assessed on the degree to which they possess a working knowledge of their instrument, which scales they can play when asked, technical facility, and intonation.


  • Guitarists/bassists are strongly encouraged to use different positions (fingerings).
  • Percussionists will be asked to play their scales on the marimba.
female-student-posing-harp Photo by Tory Germann

2. Perform two prepared works, of the student's choosing, in contrasting styles

At least one piece must be accompanied by a score; a copy of which should be given to the adjudicator at the audition. One of the pieces may be an original composition, however, this is optional.

Students will be assessed on accuracy, technical facility, musicality and expressiveness.


  • The department does not provide accompaniment for auditions. All students requiring accompaniment must provide it in recorded form on their own player, with 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack output, such as comes standard on most smartphones and mp3 media players. Students should also be prepared to cue the tracks themselves. 
  • As part of their prepared audition, percussionists are also encouraged to play a snare drum solo of at least intermediate difficulty (i.e., Intermediate Snare Drum by M. Peters).

3. Adapt to adjudicator prompts

Student will re-perform an excerpt from their prepared pieces, adopting advice from the adjudicator. Other impromptu musical instructions may be given. Students will be assessed on whether they are able to comfortably and quickly adapt musically.


  • Percussionists should be prepared to demonstrate their ability to play various "grooves" as requested by the adjudicator (ex., bossa nova, samba, jazz, funk, jazz waltz, etc.) on drum kit.
female-student-playing-violin-orchestra Photo by Tory Germann

4. Read one or more short musical excerpts at sight

Students will be assessed on their ability to read traditional western music notation in the clef (or clefs) appropriate to their instrument.


  • For percussionists, this will be rhythms on snare drum, including rudiments.

5. Pitch Matching

Students will be given a set of pitches to match vocally. These may be given from different sources, i.e., piano, mallet instrument, wind or string instrument.

6. Respond to a few short interview questions

The department would like to know more about the minds set and motivations of the students audition. Questions may include: "What are your future career goals?" or, "Why do you think the music program at UMass Lowell would be a good fit for you?"