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Auditions and Scholarships

Each year, Carthage offers more than $300,000 in renewable music scholarships to incoming freshmen and transfer students who demonstrate outstanding music potential. Individual scholarships range from $500 to $13,000 and may be offered to music majors, minors, and non-majors. 

Scholarship auditions for fall 2022 will take place in Feb. 2022. Applications will be available in Oct. 2021.

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How to Apply 

An audition is required for admittance into the music major or minor, and for scholarship consideration. All students are asked to first submit an application to the Office of Admissions before scheduling an audition. In-person auditions are held on scheduled audition dates before a panel of two or more music faculty members. Students unable to attend the scheduled audition dates may email the fine arts coordinator to discuss the possibility of an alternate audition date. Auditions take place every February. 

How to Schedule Your Audition

To apply for a scholarship, students will sign up for an audition. A confirmation email listing the audition date, time, and other pertinent details will be sent once the application form is received and processed. Students should add to their contacts to ensure they receive all of the information.

Due to COVID-19, it may not be possible to hold in-person auditions. Please be prepared for virtual interviews and performances. Details will be communicated through the email address. 

Audition Guidelines

Primary Audition

Prospective music majors, minors, and non-majors must complete an audition in a primary performance area. Two selections in a contrasting style from the standard solo repertoire are required. (See the section below titled “What to Prepare” for individual instrument requirements.) The audition should demonstrate accurate technical ability, effective musicianship, and engaged interpretive skill. An accompanist will be provided for all vocal auditions and is available upon request for instrumental auditions. (Recorded accompaniments are not permitted.) If you need an accompanist for your instrumental audition, please email at least two weeks prior to your audition date.

Auditions for admittance into the major or minor, and for scholarship consideration, are competitive. Therefore, students should prepare music from the standard repertoire that clearly demonstrates their highest level of musical and technical ability, as well as potential for excellence in music.
Follow this link for a list of suggested repertoire arranged by performance area.

What to Prepare

Students should prepare as follows:

Brass, Strings, and Woodwinds:

  • Two selections in a contrasting style from the standard solo repertoire are required. Two contrasting movements of a sonata or concerto or an advanced etude may be performed in place of one of the contrasting solos.
  • Major scales commensurate with the range of your instrument (four scales will be selected at the audition)
  • Sight-reading exercise

Keyboard (piano and organ) auditions will be virtual for February 2021:

After the audition application is received, instructions for video submission and additional requirements will be sent via email from All pieces submitted are to be performed from memory.

If your interest is in a B.A. in music, piano performance, and piano pedagogy emphases, you must include:

  • A work by J. S. Bach (at a three-part invention difficulty level) or a prelude and fugue from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”
  • The first movement of a sonata by Clement, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven or Schubert.
  • A work by a Romantic or 20th-century composer; this can be a virtuoso etude.

If your interest is in music education or being a music core major, choose two from the three following categories:

  • A two-part invention or another more difficult work by J. S. Bach.
  • A first or last (Allegro) movement of a Mozart, Haydn, or early Beethoven sonata (through Opus 28).
  • A shorter piece by a Romantic composer or a composer of the Impressionist school.

Non-majors should be prepared to play at least one work (three to five minutes) from the standard classical repertoire (Baroque, Classical, or Romantic eras). Applicants are welcome to play additional pieces from the standard classical repertoire, as well as scales and arpeggios as a part of their audition if they so choose. While non-majors may play with the score for the audition, playing from memory is preferred.

All applicants (majors and non-majors) will be asked to sight-read at least a portion from the standard repertoire. The sight-reading excerpts will be selected according to the applicant’s skill level.


  • Two selections in contrasting style from the standard solo repertoire are required.
  • Choose two of the following areas for your audition: Snare Drum, Keyboard Percussion, and Timpani (students with experience in drum set may choose this as a third area in addition to two of the required areas)
  •  Marimba: Major scales in two octaves (four scales will be selected at the audition)
  • Sight-reading exercise as appropriate for your selected areas


  • Two memorized selections in a contrasting style from the standard solo repertoire are required.
  • Sight read melodic passages
  • Pitch-matching (tonal memory)

Music Theatre: (Learn more about music theatre)
Music theatre is a program within the Music Department. There is a separate application form located on the music theatre web page

  • Choose one of the three music theatre audition dates
  • Two memorized selections in contrasting style from the standard solo repertoire are required.
  • Two memorized contrasting monologues, each no longer than one minute, for a total of two minutes
  • Sight read melodic passages
  • Pitch-matching (tonal memory)
  • Dance call: all candidates for the music theatre major must complete a dance call, including ballet combinations, jazz combinations, a modern combination, and a tap combination.
  • In-person dance call waived for February 2021 auditions.  Please see the Music Theatre page for more details.

Secondary Audition

Though not required, students may audition in a secondary performance area. If auditioning in two areas, please prepare two selections for your primary area and one for your secondary. Students are eligible to receive a music scholarship in one area, a limited number of scholarships are available to students who excel in more than one area.

Assessment/Placement Exams

All prospective music majors, minors, and music theatre students must complete assessments in music theory and keyboard skills (non-majors need not complete these exams). The primary audition is the principal determinant for admittance into the music major or minor and for scholarship consideration. However, these exams provide useful information to the music faculty regarding the student’s musical knowledge, skills, and experience. They also assist in placement within music courses at the time of acceptance and may influence the level of scholarship awarded.

Music Theory

The Music Theory Assessment measures knowledge of Music Theory fundamentals which one normally encounters in the process of studying harmony and voice leading. Participation in a high school level music theory course is not required to complete the assessment, though such experience is helpful and recommended.

Keyboard Skills

The Keyboard Skills Placement Exam is used by the music faculty to determine placement within Keyboard Skills classes. Students with some piano training may be exempt from some or all of the keyboard skills sequence. Students with no prior training in piano who are accepted into the music major or minor are encouraged to seek piano instruction prior to entering in the fall as the piano serves as a useful tool and foundation for study in music. 

Additional Items to Bring With You

  • A copy of your resume (may include items such as ensembles memberships, solo and chamber music performances, music theatre and opera performances, awards, leadership opportunities, names of private music instructors, etc.)
  • Two letters of recommendation (Letters may be emailed to
  • A copy of your music if you are using an accompanist (accompanists are provided for all vocal auditions and must be requested for instrumental auditions). The copy should be in the key you plan to perform, double-sided, collated, and in a three-ring binder. Recorded accompaniments are not permitted
  • Piano and organ students should also provide a repertoire list
  • Music Theatre students should include a headshot with your resume

Where to Go

Auditions are held in the H.F. Johnson Fine Arts Center. This building is located south past the A. F. Siebert Chapel. Turn right when you pass the chapel heading south. There is a visitor parking lot to your left. Our building is directly north. There are two sets of doors. Please enter the southwest doors and head straight down the hallway to our check-in desk. Our staff will check you in and direct you to a practice room.
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