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Application and Audition

Undergraduate Music Major

Students MUST audition and be accepted by the Music Department to become music majors.  Admission to the university is NOT the equivalent of admission as a music major.  Begin with the NCCU undergraduate admission application.  ­ Application for admission

Auditions and Music Theory Assessment

Departmental Auditions

  • Students are required to audition on the primary instrument prior to acceptance into the NCCU Music Department
  • Students must plan for their auditions well in advance of their assigned audition dates.  Students living within a 100-mile radius of Durham are expected to audition in person on the NCCU campus
  • Students living outside the 100-mile radius may submit a CD or DVD recording.  However, an in-person audition on campus is preferred.  The recording should be of the best audio or video quality possible.  Primary emphasis is placed on the quality of the performance submitted

Auditions are scheduled in the fall for admission the following spring semester, and in the spring for the following fall semester.  In some circumstances, it is possible to schedule alternate audition dates.  To arrange the audition, please contact the Music Department Office.

All auditions will include the following components:

  • Performance of two prepared selections of varying styles
  • Sight-reading assessment
  • Technical assessment

Click here to see additional audition guidelines specific to individual instruments.

Jazz Studies Auditions

Acceptance into the Jazz Studies program requires a separate audition IN ADDITION TO the audition for admission to the Music Department.

The Jazz Studies audition usually occurs at the same time as the departmental audition. Jazz Studies auditions will include the following components:

  • Performance of two prepared selections with improvisation including one blues or ‘Rhythm Changes’ piece
  • One ballad
  • Sight-reading assessment
  • Chords and scales assessment

Music Theory Assessment

The music theory assessment test determines student placement in the Fundamentals and Harmony classes.  The test is given during the orientation period at the beginning of each semester.

Click here to see additional audition guidelines specific to individual instruments.

 Graduate Music Study

Admission Prerequisites to the Graduate Studies Master of Music in Jazz Studies

  • Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance or Bachelor of Arts in Music
  • Extensive experience in jazz performance
  • Teaching experience is preferred
  • Students entering the Master of Music in Jazz Studies program must have a 3.0 average in their undergraduate major and a 2.7 cumulative grade point average
  • Advanced study in Jazz Theory and Improvisation for Performance Majors
  • Advanced study in Jazz Arranging and Composition for Composition Majors
  • Extensive jazz, big band and small combo experience for Vocal or Instrumental

Application Process

  • Graduate Admissions Application
  • Two official undergraduate transcripts
  • Two letters of Reference
  • With the exception of NCCU undergraduates, all applicants are required to meet the university standards on the Graduate Record Examination

Audition Process

A successful performance audition and a written and oral theory exam are required for acceptance.  Students auditioning for the program must be proficient in improvisation in the following three song forms:

  • Blues
  • ‘Rhythm changes’
  • Select standards including ballads and Latin jazz

Additionally, applicants may submit recordings from a small or large ensemble that demonstrate applicant's musical development.

Students seeking the Composition track must provide written scores and recordings that demonstrate successful writing ability.

Individual Instrument Audition Guidelines 


The audition evaluates vocal potential along with basic musical skills including vocal range and reproduction of pitches and melodic fragments.  Audition must include two prepared pieces selected from the following:

  • Italian anthology song sung in Italian or English
  • Classical or Romantic period song sung in English
  • 20th-century or Broadway song sung in English


The audition must include major and minor scales up to 5 sharps or flats (2 hands, 2 octaves) and chromatic scale.  Audition must include two prepared pieces representative of Level Three (minimum) of the common preparatory piano repertory such as:

  • Movements from sonatinas by Clementi, Kuhlau, Kabalevsky, etc.
  • Selections comparable to Bach, Little Preludes, 2-Part Inventions; Scarlatti, Easy Sonatas; Schumann, Album for the Young; Gretchaninoff, Children's Book, Op. 98, etc.
  • Selections comparable to Bartok, For Children (Books I and II), Ten Easy Pieces, etc.


The audition must include major and minor scales up to 5 sharps or flats (2 hands, 3 octaves) and chromatic scale.  Audition must include prepared pieces:

  • A Bach prelude and fugue or another representative Baroque composer
  • A representative work from the 19th or 20th-century
  • A hymn from a representative hymnal

Students without previous organ study experience will audition on the piano to demonstrate the necessary keyboard skills using the piano guidelines.  

Stringed Instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass)

The audition must include:

  • Major and minor scales up to 4 sharps or flats, 2 octaves minimum, 3 octaves (when possible) with various bowings
  • An etude from the representative repertory
  • Movements from the student or standard repertory demonstrating both technical proficiency and musical expressive ability


The audition must include:

  • Demonstration open chords, major and minor barre chords with the root on 5th and 6th strings
  • Major scales in two octaves
  • Two prepared pieces reflecting a variety of styles
  • Demonstration of sight-reading 

Woodwind Instruments

The audition must include: 

  • Major scales up to 4 sharps or flats, 2 octaves and chromatic scale
  • Solos or etudes from books such as Rubank Advanced Method, vols. I and II; selected studies by Voxman; representative works from standard literature

Brass Instruments

The audition must include:

  • Major and minor scales to 5 sharps or flats, 2 octaves and chromatic scale
  • Movement from representative solo concerto or sonata repertoire by composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Hummel, Dittersdorf, David, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, or Vaughan Williams
  • Representative orchestral excerpts or standard etudes


The audition must include:

  • Basic rudiments on snare drum
  • Familiarity with keyboard or mallet instruments
  • Trap drum set demonstrates a knowledge of several different rhythm patterns, including Latin and swing
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