MM & DMA Auditions

Each year, Bienen School faculty will listen to thousands of the nation’s most promising young musicians to determine who will be selected for admission to Northwestern University.

Step by step instructions for auditioning for the Bienen School of Music are outlined below.

1. Submit your application

All graduate degree programs require either a performance audition or an interview in order to be considered for admission. Many programs also require that prescreening materials be submitted with the application, which will determine whether you are invited for an on-campus audition or interview.

Within the Graduate Application, you will answer questions about your musical background and upload your resume and personal statement.  After you have submitted your application (and following a review of any required prescreening materials) you will receive information on how to schedule your audition.

Submit your application

Important Audition Dates

Early February 2020
Master of Music in Music Education Interviews
February 6-16, 2020
Master of Music performance auditions
February 6-16, 2020
Doctor of Musical Arts performance auditions
February 3 (DMA) & 4 (MM), 2020
Choral Conducting auditions
February 24 (DMA) & 25 (MM), 2020
Wind Conducting auditions
March 2 (DMA) & 3 (MM), 2020
Orchestral Conducting auditions

2. Prepare for Your Audition

See Audition Requirements

We recommend starting early by taking the audition requirements to your music teacher. Prepare for your audition by bringing musical selections that best showcase what you do well.  It is better to beautifully perform a piece that requires moderate skill, as opposed to a mediocre performance of a very difficult piece.

For prescreening recordings and final audition recordings, it is not necessary to have them made in a professional studio. The most important aspect is that the sound quality of your recording is excellent, so find a good microphone and play your recording for multiple people before you submit it.


Voice applicants are required to submit prescreening recordings with accompaniment. For on-campus voice auditions, an accompanist will be provided for you. However, you are required to bring your own music for the accompanist to use. We recommend making photocopies of your music and neatly organizing your selections in a three-ring binder. Please do not place music in plastic sleeves as this causes glare for our pianists. For safety, do not use staples on your music. Do not send music in advance, but instead bring the music with you when you arrive for your audition.

Jazz Studies applicants require prescribed combo instrumentation, as described on the Audition and Program Requirements page. 

Classical instrumental prescreening recordings and auditions must be unaccompanied, with the exception of flute applicants, who are encouraged to submit prescreening materials with accompaniment (flute auditions will be unaccompanied). If you are performing a required excerpt that includes measures of rests, it is not necessary to count out the rests—you can move on to your next entrance.

All DMA prescreening recordings and auditions, with the exception of piano, must be accompanied. Classical guitar, harp and piano auditions will be unaccompanied. 

3. Audition on Campus or by Online Recording

Audition On Campus

After you have submitted your application and any required prescreening materials are reviewed, you will receive a notification if you have been invited for the final round of on-campus auditions. This notification will contain information on how to schedule your audition. Do not book your travel arrangements until you receive official, written confirmation from the Bienen School of Music.


On Campus Audition Checklist

Audition By Recording

DMA applicants must audition on campus, if invited after submitting the application and prescreening requirements. Recordings will not be accepted as a final audition for the DMA degree. Composers will be asked to visit campus for interviews with the faculty.

MM applicants who cannot complete an on-campus audition must upload a recording to use as the final audition. Recordings should be uploaded by December 1, 2019 as part of the online graduate application process. If you are unable to attend a previously scheduled on-campus audition (i.e., for illness), contact the Office of Music Admission to discuss the submission of a recorded audition. 

NOTE:  MM Jazz Studies and Conducting applicants must attend the on-campus audition, if invited, to be considered for admission.