Freshmen Auditions | Webster University

Audition Information for New Students

General Information

If you intend to major or minor as an undergraduate student at Webster University, you must complete an audition as part of your application. We recommend that students apply for academic admission before auditioning.

Music students in Thompson House.

Auditions are held several times each semester for all areas of study:

Jazz Studies (Instrumental or Vocal)
Collaborative Piano
Composition (Songwriting)
Music Direction for Musical Theatre
Music Education
Instrumental Performance
Piano or Organ Performance
Voice Performance
Music Technology
General music studies

In addition to the auditions, these days include other activities for students and parents. These include campus tours, an admission/financial aid presentation, class observation, and departmental overviews.

Students auditioning for admission and scholarships must follow general guidelines. This audition is for admission only to the Department of Music. You also must apply to and be accepted by the university.


Audition Guidelines

General Guidelines. Prepare two or three works that best represent your musical and technical abilities. The music on your state adjudicated contest list is the kind of music we wish to hear at audition.

Even if you play multiple instruments well, or sing and play an instrument well, we ask that you audition on your strongest instrument -- and in particular, the instrument (or voice) on which you would wish to give a senior recital. Audition performance time is generally limited to 7 minutes per student. Faculty members of the area in which you audition will serve as the audition committee for your performance. For example, if you perform a trumpet audition, members from the brass faculty will hear you play. As a general rule, the most important thing is for you to play or sing two contrasting selections that you perform well.

Memorized performance is required for voice auditions, and encouraged for piano auditions. You should also be ready to demonstrate ability to perform scales if we ask, and you may be asked to sight-read a short selection.

Most students will audition with music similar to that on the state solo and ensemble contest list. Music of this style and substance is appropriate for an audition.

Specific audition requirements vary by instrument and program.

Jazz students. All jazz majors audition on their primary jazz instrument. Please prepare three excerpts: one of a blues tune, one of a standard, and a final excerpt of an additional standard in a contrasting rhythmic feel. You will also be asked to improvise and sight-read. Piano and guitar students will be asked to accompany as well. Drummers should demonstrate a number of different rhythmic patterns and styles.

Composition students. In addition to auditioning on a performance instrument or on voice, composition students present a portfolio of two or three compositions that show a range of musical interests. Portfolios should include recordings and notated scores. Computer-generated recordings are acceptable. Please email your portfolios to Prof. Kim Portnoy and Dr. David Werfelmann.

Songwriting students. You are in a special category. Please sing (and play on guitar or piano) a couple of your best compositions. We are listening for musical substance, originality, and ease and comfort on stage. You also need to bring along a lead sheet for the two songs you will perform, and at least three other songs. The lead sheet should include, at a minimum, the melody line with lyrics and chord symbols. We prefer that this be generated in a music notation software program, rather by hand.

Music Directing students. You likewise are in a special category.  Please play (and sing, if possible) two contrasting Broadway standards.  One piece should be Golden Era, and other from contemporary musical theatre or post-millennial musical theatre literature.  You will also sight-read as if you are playing as a hired accompanist for a company's auditions.  

Accompanist. For singers and orchestral instrument performers, the university provides a highly qualified accompanist for your audition, so you need not travel with your own accompanist. You must bring music for the staff accompanist, with any cuts or directions clearly marked. NOTE: students auditioning on orchestral instruments should let us know at least two weeks in advance that you will require an accompanist. Many times you have not rehearsed or prepared with the accompaniment, so we do not automatically assign a pianist unless you request!

Further questions about audition requirements are answered by Dr. Jeffrey Carter, Chair of the Department of Music. Contact Dr. Carter at 314.968.7033 or send him an email.

For additional scheduling information, please direct any questions to Patricia Gray Baygents, the Audition Coordinator, in Undergraduate Admissions. 1-800.753.6765 or 1-314.246.4216, or e-mail

Music Theory

Study of music theory begins in the very first college semester. Knowledge of music theory fundamentals will help you a great deal! This sheet will guide you to fundamentals for college-level music theory study.

Audition Day Schedule

Auditions on official audition days invariably follow a simple schedule that includes your playing/singing audition, interviews with faculty, and several diagnostic exams.