Graduate - Apply & Audition or Interview


Step 1: Apply for Admission

The first step towards your graduate studies in music at the University of Kansas is to complete your application for admission. Research our different degree options, contact faculty in your area of interest, and gather your application requirements. Contact graduateadm@ku.edu or musicgrad@ku.edu with questions about the application process. 


Step 2: Prepare

After completing the application, review the audition or interview requirements for your area of interest. Auditions and interviews generally take place in early spring on designated days. Admitted students will receive an email invitation if applicable. Details on audition and interview requirements are listed below.

The following MUSIC degree programs require an audition to the School of Music:

  • Church Music (MM, DMA)
  • Conducting (MM, DMA)
  • Performance - all instruments  and performance mediums (MM, DMA)

ALL Piano, Voice, and Conducting performance applicants must submit a prescreening audition video within the application system by December 1st. If you miss this pre-screening deadline your application will be denied or deferred to a later semester. 

Fall 2022 Admission Audition Dates: February 2022 (dates vary by area)

The following Music Education & Music Therapy (MEMT) graduate programs require an admission video uploaded in the online application:  

  • Music Therapy (MME & Graduate Equivalency Program)
    • Applicants without an undergraduate degree in music must also complete a separate audition to the School of Music.
  • Music Education (MME, PHD)
  • Music Therapy (MME, PHD)

Additional program information can be found in the audition and interview section below. 

KU School of Music will be offering both video and in-person auditions and interviews for most areas. 

For more information about audition and interview scheduling, please email musicgrad@ku.edu.


Step 3: Audition or Interview

Select your area of interest from the list below. Read carefully as some performance areas require different auditions for different degree programs. If you have questions regarding the appropriate repertoire, please contact the faculty member listed for your area of interest.

Audition & Interview Requirements

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission -or- they may make arrangements with the major teacher (faculty contact) to submit a pre-recorded video audition to your application or schedule an audition by appointment.


Audition Requirements

1) Two contrasting movements from a Bach Suite

2) The first movement of a standard concerto (i.e. Dvorak, Schumann, Haydn, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, etc.)

3) Another work of your choice which demonstrates an additional contrasting style or period

*​*DMA applicants, please prepare a 40‐minute program which incorporates the requirements above.  You may also include additional movements or works.**

Memorization is strongly encouraged but not required. Accompaniment is optional.


Faculty Contact / Strings Area Coordinator: Hannah Collins, hannah.collins@ku.edu   

No audition is required for the MM and DMA in Composition programs.

Please submit at least 3 representational scores within your online application for review by the Theory/Composition faculty.  

  • Recordings are not required.
  • You may include links to media storage for recordings if you wish to include them. 

Composition & Theory Area Coordinator: Forrest Pierce, fpierce@ku.edu  

Choral Conducting

A pre-screening audition video is required with your application materials. The audition video should include both rehearsal, and performance recordings, demonstrating the candidate’s conducting skills. The camera should be positioned so as to produce a face-on view of the conductor. Upon faculty review of the materials submitted within the online application, a limited number of finalists will be invited via email to audition and interview at the University of Kansas on a specific audition date. 

Process: The conducting audition will last roughly ten to fifteen minutes. The candidate will be expected to conduct a single piece. Prior to the candidate’s arrival on campus, the Director of Choral Activities will assign the title for the audition. The candidate will conduct straight through the work (or movement), giving the audition panel an opportunity to see the candidate’s artistry and physical communication skills as a conductor. In this segment of the audition, the candidate may not coach the choir verbally. Following the first reading of the piece, the candidate will be expected to rehearse a single segment of the work. This will give the audition panel a chance to see the candidate’s approach to rehearsal. It is important that the candidate not choose a segment that is too long or that cannot be improved in the time available. The point of the exercise is to see the maximum improvement of the passage in the shortest amount of time. The candidate should keep rehearsing until informed that the time limit has been reached. The candidate will then be given some specific conducting challenges to determine his or her ability to respond to instructions. This phase is conducted with the choir so as to create the most adverse condition possible. The candidate’s ability to respond to instructions will be determined from this exercise.

Faculty Contact: Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, edugarno@ku.edu


Orchestral Conducting

A pre-screening audition video is required with your application materials.

  • For DMA students, the audition video should show the applicant conducting at least two compositions in performance and two compositions in rehearsal.
  • For MM applicants, the audition video should show the applicant conducting at least one composition in performance and one in rehearsal.

In both cases, the conductor must be in frontal or a partial frontal view and at least part of the ensemble must be in view. Upon faculty review of the materials submitted within the online application, a limited number of finalists will be invited via email to audition and interview at the University of Kansas on a specific audition date. 

The live audition piece for applicants in Orchestral Conducting will be an orchestral work to be determined by the Director of Orchestral Activities. 

The audition will include three parts:

  1. An interview with Dr. Watson discussing the applicant’s experience and professional goals
  2. A musical skills and knowledge diagnostic including aural skills, score recognition, and knowledge of orchestral instruments and musical terminology.
  3. A twenty minute audition with the KU Symphony Orchestra adjudicated by the heads of the conducting divisions. The audition will begin with a run-through to assess non-verbal communication and gesture. The audition will conclude with the candidate rehearsing the piece in the remaining time.

Faculty Contact:  Carolyn Watson, carolyn_watson@ku.edu  


Wind Conducting

It is preferred that all applicants for the Master of Music in conducting degree have two years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. It is preferred that all applicants for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting have four years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. This may include public school teaching, directing a professional or semi-professional ensemble, or other equivalent professional arenas.

A pre-screening audition video is required with your application materials. The video should show the applicant conducting at least two compositions in performance and two compositions in rehearsal. The conductor must be in full frontal or a partial profile view and at least part of the ensemble must be in view. The repertoire selected for the video must be appropriate to the musical and technical abilities of the ensemble. If you have had difficulty due to COVID, please contact us to inquire what options are acceptable. 

Upon faculty review of the materials submitted within the online application, a limited number of finalists will be invited via email to audition and interview at the University of Kansas on a specific audition date. 

The live audition includes three parts:

  1. An interview with Paul Popiel ppopiel@ku.edu discussing the applicants professional goals, teaching philosophy, and experience.
  2. A musical skills and knowledge diagnostic including aural skills, score recognition, and knowledge of wind/percussion instruments and musical terminology.
  3. A twenty minute audition with the KU Wind Ensemble adjudicated by the heads of the conducting divisions. The audition will begin with a run-through to assess non-verbal communication and gesture. The candidate will then be asked make several adjustments to their conducting. The audition will conclude with the candidate rehearsing the piece in the remaining time.

Faculty Contact: Paul Popiel, ppopiel@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission -or- they may make arrangements with the major teacher (faculty contact) to submit a pre-recorded video audition to your application or schedule an audition by appointment.


Audition Requirements

Graduate Certificate in Music Performance and MM applicants-

  • First movement of a major concerto
  • Movement of a Bach cello suite
  • Standard excerpt from each of the following:
  • Beethoven Symphony #5
  • Mozart Symphony 35, 39, or 40 (applicant may choose)
  • Berlioz Symphony Fantastique, Mvt. 4, 3 bars after 50 through 52
  • Verdi “Othello” bass solo

​DMA applicants - add one piece of your choosing.


Faculty Contact: Richard Ryan, reryan@ku.edu

Strings Area Coordinator: Hannah Collins, hannah.collins@ku.edu   

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Graduate Certificate in Music Performance and MM

A 20 to 30 minute audition consisting of contrasting major works for the instrument, including transcriptions, and 2‐3 major wind band excerpts.

DMA in Performance

A 30 to 40 minute audition consisting of contrasting major works for the instrument, including transcriptions, and 2‐3 wind band excerpts.


Faculty contact:  Scott Watson, scwatson@ku.edu

Area Coordinator: Michael Davidson, mdavidsn@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Audition Requirements

Graduate Audition Requirements for MM French horn:

  • Please be prepared to play all major scales

Maxime-Alphonse Book #5, No. 3 (available on IMSLP)

Excerpts: choose 5 of 10 listed

  • Brahms - Symphony No. 2, 1st movement solo
  • Strauss - Till Eulenspiegel, opening
  • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5, 2nd movement solo
  • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4, opening
  • Beethoven - Symphony No. 7, 1st movement tutti
  • Beethoven - Symphony No. 3, 2nd horn, 3rd movement
  • Ravel - Pavane
  • Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5, low tutti
  • Strauss - Ein Heldenleben, opening
  • Wagner - Short Call

Solo - choose from the following, or of similar difficulty:

  • R. Strauss - Concerto 1 or 2
  • Hindemith - Sonata or Concerto
  • Schumann - Adagio and Allegro
  • Mozart - Concerto 2 or 4
  • Bozza - En Foret

Graduate Audition Requirements for DMA French horn:

  • Excerpts: choose from MM list (see above) or 5 of similar significance and difficulty
  • Solos: choose selections from MM recital and/or from most recent solo recitals

Applicants should plan for a 30-minute program which includes the requirements above. You may also include additional movements or works. Memorization is strongly encouraged but not required. Accompaniment is optional.


Candidates for the MM in Performance, Graduate Certificate in Music Performance, or the DMA in Performance should contact Dr. Paul Stevens directly regarding audition repertoire choices and requirements.

Faculty Contact:  Paul Stevens, pstevens@ku.edu

Area Coordinator: Michael Davidson, mdavidsn@ku.edu

Students applying to a master's program in Music Education are not required to audition or interview. 

Doctoral Applicants will be contacted by faculty to arrange an in-person or online interview once their application is complete. Please contact the area coordinator if you have specific questions about the interview process. No auditions are required. 


Area Coordinator: Jacob Dakon, jmdakon@ku.edu 

Applicants to Music Therapy (MME and PHD programs) are required to complete an in-person or online interview. Once an application is complete, faculty in your area will contact you directly to arrange an interview. No audition is required.

If you are seeking Music Therapy Graduate Equivalency (w/o undergraduate music degree), you may sign up for in-person auditions/interviews once you have completed the online application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.

For the Music Therapy application, please review the Music Therapy Song Repertoire Resource List

Music Therapy Video Instructions for Master's Students 

Applicants will upload a video within the graduate application system (under portfolio).

  1. Face the camera, State your name, and tell why you are interested in Music Therapy at KU (2 minutes max).
  2. Play or sing music from 2 different time periods or styles according to your best principal applied music skill (5 minutes max).
  3. Choose 10 songs across varied categories from the Music Therapy Song Resource List.
  4. Sing 2 of these songs a cappella and accompany yourself singing 3 additional selections on either piano or guitar.
  5. The remaining 5 songs may be requested as part of the interview process

Music Therapy Video Instructions for PhD Students 

Applicants will upload a video within the graduate application system (under portfolio).

  1. Face the camera, State your name, and tell why you are interested in the PhD program at KU (2 minutes max).
  2. Select 3 contrasting pieces (12 minutes max) and demonstrate one of the options (a, b, or c) below:
    1. Play or sing music from different time periods or styles according to your best-applied music skill.
    2. Conduct each piece or chosen portion thereof without interruption placing the camera so that we see your entire body and face. Conducting can be in a rehearsal or concert setting.
    3. Mix singing/playing with conducting, if desired.
  3. Show yourself in action (15 minutes max):
    • Music Education Emphasis - as a teacher, either in a rehearsal, another type of music class, or a private lesson
    • Music Therapy Emphasis - as a clinician, choose the best available excerpts of your clinical skills while also demonstrating singing/accompanying skills.

Note: All Non-English videos must provide an English narration that describes the educational (music education) or therapeutic (music therapy) goals and objectives being addressed and how those goals are being met.

Faculty Contact: Dr. Cindy Colwell, ccolwell@ku.edu 

Organists may audition in-person in the Bales Organ Recital Hall or by uploading a video audition to their online application, following a discussion with Drs. Michael Bauer and James Higdon.

Candidates for the following degrees should contact the faculty member listed below directly regarding audition repertoire choices and requirements:

  • Graduate Certificate in Music Performance
  • MM in Performance (Organ or Carillon)
  • MM in Church Music (Organ or Choral)
  • DMA in Performance (Organ)
  • DMA in Church Music (Organ or Choral)    

Faculty Contacts:  James Higdon, jhigdon@ku.edu and Michael Bauer, mbauer@ku.edu 

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Audition Requirements

All applicants for the Graduate Certificate in Music Performance, MM in Performance or the DMA in Performance must perform in all major areas listed below. This list is the minimum required audition for the graduate level.

Keyboard Percussion (Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone):

  • Two Mallets: Any movement from Violin Sonatas and Partitas or Cello Suites.
  • Four Mallets: A Published four-mallet solo or etude.
  • Sight-reading
  • Scales
  • Excerpts from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, and one excerpt of choice (either on Xylophone or Vibraphone).

Snare Drum:

  • A published concert-style solo or etude from Anthony Cirone's Portraits in Rhythm, Jacques Delecluse's Douze Etudes pour Caisse-Claire, or equivalent.
  • A published rudimental-style solo or etude from Charles Wilcoxon's The All American Drummer, John Pratt's Fourteen Rudimental Contest Solos, or equivalent.
  • Excerpts from Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Lieutenant Kije by Sergei Prokofiev.
  • Sight-reading

Timpani: 

  • A published solo or etude from Richard Hochrainer’s Etuden für Timpani Vol. 1, Saul Goodman's Modern Method for Timpani, or equivalent.
  • One solo from Eight Pieces for Four Timpani by Elliott Carter.

Feel free to prepare anything else you would like to play for auditions.


Faculty Contact: Sam Um, sam.um@ku.edu

Area Coordinator: Michael Davidson, mdavidsn@ku.edu

A pre‐screening VIDEO submitted with your graduate application by December 1st is required for all graduate programs in Piano (Graduate Certificate in Music Performance, MM or DMA).Students must submit a 20‐minute audition of works from at least 2 periods:

  • First movement of a Classical Sonata is required (Schubert included)
  • Additional repertoire of applicant’s choice

Note: Memorization is required for all works with the exception of 20th/21st Century works of exceptional difficulty

The video does not have to be professional quality, but should be a clear and accurate representation of your playing. Poor sound quality will lessen your chances of admission.


Final Audition Requirements:  A 45‐minute program and repertoire must include at least 3 solo works from different periods. 

  • All Sonatas, Variations, Suites and other individual works written with multiple movements must be prepared in their entirety
  • Sets of pieces that are intended to be performed together must be prepared in their entirety (Schumann Carnaval, Davidsbündlertanze, or Kreisleriana; Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition; Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue)

When choosing repertoire, we encourage (not require) you to explore the works of underrepresented composers who reflect different racial, gender, ethnic and cultural traditions. To get started, we recommend the following resources:

*All applicants interested in being considered for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship should prepare to answer the following question: “Why do you wish to pursue graduate study at the University of Kansas and what are your goals following your musical study at the University of Kansas?” If auditioning by video, please submit a separate video response to the question.


Faculty Contact: Michael Kirkendoll, michaelkirkendoll@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Graduate Audition Requirements for tenor trombone

  • Please be prepared to play all major and minor scales
  • Bordogni - Etude #23  “Andante Cantabile”  from Complete Vocalises for Trombone, edited Michael Mulcahy

Excerpts: choose 5 of 6 listed

  • Berlioz - Hungarian March, second trombone part, six measures before rehearsal "4" to end
  • Brahms - Symphony No. 1, alto trombone part, chorale at "C"
  • Mozart - "Tuba Mirum" from Requiem, tenor trombone solo
  • Ravel - Bolero, first solo (beginning after rehearsal "10" to "11")
  • Strauss - Till Eulenspiegel, first trombone part, nine after "35" to sixteen after "37"
  • Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries, rehearsal "4" to third measure after rehearsal "7" 

Solo - choose from the following, or of similar difficulty: 

  • Casterede - Sonatine
  • Ewazen - Sonata
  • Hindemith - Sonata


Graduate Audition Requirements for bass trombone

  • Please be prepared to play all major and minor scales
  • Bordogni – Etude #23  “Andante Cantabile”  fromComplete Vocalises for Trombone, edited Michael Mulcahy

Excerpts: choose 5 of 6 listed

  • Berlioz - Hungarian March, six measures before rehearsal "4" to end
  • Brahms - Symphony No. 2,  mvt. 4, "O" to end
  • Franck - Symphony in D minor, mvt. 3, beginning letter "N"
  • Haydn - Creation, #26
  • Respighi - "Pines Near a Catacomb" from The Pines of Rome, "Ancora piu mosso" through measure after rehearsal "12"
  • Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries, rehearsal "4" to third measure after rehearsal "7" 

Solo - choose from the following, or of similar difficulty

  • Bolter - Sagittarius 2
  • Bozza - New Orleans 
  • Casterede – Fantaisie Concertante
  • Ewazen - Concerto for Tuba or Bass Trombone

Candidates for the MM in Performance or the Graduate Certificate in Music Performance, MM in Performance, or the DMA in Performance should contact Dr. Michael Davidson with questions regarding repertoire or auditions. 

Faculty Contact & Area Coordinator: Michael Davidson, mdavidsn@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Candidates for the Graduate Certificate in Music Performance,  MM in Performance or the DMA in Performance should contact Prof. Steve Leisring directly regarding audition repertoire choices and requirements.

  • Candidates should be prepared to present at least 20 minutes of standard repertoire that best demonstrates the candidate’s current level. This should include works performed on Bb and C trumpet.
  • Candidates interested in Graduate Assistantships will be required to demonstrate ability on the Piccolo and/or Eb trumpet as well.
  • Use of an accompaniment is optional for the audition.
  • Emphasis will be on evaluating the quality of the audition performance over the difficulty of the works performed.

Faculty Contact:  Stephen Leisring, leisring@ku.edu 

Area Coordinator: Michael Davidson, mdavidsn@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission. A link will be sent to the applicant after the December 1st priority application deadline.


Graduate Certificate in Music Performance and MM: A 20‐30 minute audition consisting of contrasting major works for the instrument, including transcriptions, and 2‐3 major orchestral excerpts.  

DMA in Performance: A 30‐40 minute audition consisting of contrasting major works for the instrument, including transcriptions, and 2‐3 major orchestral excerpts.


Faculty Contact:  Scott Watson, scwatson@ku.edu

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission -or- they may make arrangements with the major teacher (faculty contact) to submit a pre-recorded video audition to your application or schedule an audition by appointment.


Audition Requirements

Graduate Certificate in Music Performance and MM applicants -

  • Two contrasting movements from a solo Suite, Sonata or Partita by J.S. Bach
  • The first movement of a standard concerto with cadenza OR the second and third movements of a standard concerto
  • A contrasting piece (applicant’s choice)

For DMA applicants -

Prepare a 40‐minute recital which includes at least all of the above requirements.


Faculty Contact: Boris Vayner, bvayner@ku.edu 

Strings Area Coordinator: Hannah Collins, hannah.collins@ku.edu   

Students may sign up for in-person auditions once they have completed their application for admission -or- they may make arrangements with the major teacher (faculty contact) to submit a pre-recorded video audition to your application or schedule an audition by appointment.


Audition Requirements

       Graduate Certificate in Music Performance and MM applicants:

  • Two contrasting movements from a solo Sonata or Partita by J.S. Bach
  • The first movement of a standard concerto with cadenza OR the second and third movements of a standard concerto
  • A contrasting piece (applicant’s choice)

       For DMA applicants - prepare a 40‐minute recital that includes at least all of the above requirements.  


Faculty contact: David Colwell, david.colwell@ku.edu

Strings Area Coordinator: Hannah Collins, hannah.collins@ku.edu   

For 2022: both in-person and video auditions will be considered for admission. Please read carefully. 


A pre-screening video, submitted with your application, is required for all graduate programs in Voice: MM, MM in Opera, DMA, and the Certificate in Music Performance.  The submission deadline is December 1st.

  • For all MM and Certificate applicants, the pre-screening video must include a minimum of 6 selections, including one each in English, French, German and Italian. Include at least 1 oratorio or operatic aria.                                   
  • For DMA applicants the pre-screening video must include a minimum of 6 selections, including one each in English, French, German and Italian. Include at least 1 oratorio or operatic aria. If applicants are wanting to audition by video (rather than in-person), the pre-screening video should be the equivalent of a 45 minute recital, following the same literature and language requirements.

For all applicants auditioning by video, these pre-screening video will also serve as the final audition. We encourage all to include at least 1 selection by a composer who has been traditionally underrepresented due to gender, ethnicity, race, or cultural heritage.

As part of your pre-screen, all applicants should record a statement telling us 1: Why you are interested in the University of Kansas graduate program, 2: What your goals are following graduate study, and 3: Whether you wish to audition in person or with a video.


Applicants wanting to audition in-person will be notified that they have passed the pre-screen and are able to sign up for an on-campus audition in February.

Audition Requirements: You do not need to send music in advance.

  • MM in Voice, Opera and Certificate in-person audition repertoire requirements will be the same as for the MM pre-screen video.
  • DMA in person audition repertoire will consist of 10-12 selections, including varied song literature in English, French, German, and Italian. In addition, include both an oratorio and operatic aria. 

Final decisions will be made no earlier than mid-March.


Faculty Contact: John Stephens, jastephe@ku.edu

Auditions for Fall 2022 will be held at the School of Music in February 2022 (dates TBD). If you are unable to schedule your audition on one of these days, you may arrange an alternative date with the professor of your instrument.  A live audition is strongly encouraged but you may submit a video audition after consulting with the professor of your instrument. Sign up for your audition here (this link will open in late September).


Audition Requirements

Graduate Certificate in Music Performance: Candidates are to prepare a 30‐minute program. Please prepare a printed program for submission at the time of your audition. Faculty will select approximately 20-minutes of music for you to perform at the time of your audition.

MM in Performance: Candidates are to prepare a 30‐minute program. Please prepare a printed program for submission at the time of your audition. Faculty will select approximately 20-minutes for you to perform at the time of your audition.

DMA in Performance: Candidates are to prepare a 60‐minute program. Please prepare a printed program for submission at the time of your audition. Faculty will select approximately 20-minutes of music for you to perform at the time of your audition.


Video Audition

If you are submitting a video audition, upload a copy or link of the video to your online application (contact musicgrad@ku.edu with questions about the application system), and alert the studio faculty in your area via email. 


Repertoire: 

Selections should demonstrate a variety of playing styles and compositional periods and represent the candidate’s performance skills in the best possible light. The audition need not be accompanied. For more information, contact the faculty member listed below.    

FLUTE Faculty contact: Daniel Velasco, dvelasco@ku.edu  

OBOE Faculty contact: Margaret Marco, mmarco@ku.edu      

CLARINET Faculty contact: Stephanie Zelnick, zelnick@ku.edu      

SAXOPHONE Faculty contact: Vince Gnojek, vgnojek@ku.edu      

BASSOON Faculty contact: Eric Stomberg, stomberg@ku.edu


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