Your Turn in the Spotlight: The Solo

Understanding the Audition Process
(Part 3A – Solo Repertoire / Music Grading List)

A repertoire of solo performance pieces is always a required part of the audition. In fact, most recruiters will tell you this is the most important part of the audition. This is where you can show your ability to musically interpret the composition as well as demonstrate your level of advanced technique. Put a lot of thought into your solo repertoire! This is where you get to show off your musicality in addition to your technical and stylistic skills. You have the chance to show your judges that you are "the total package."

What Are the Requirements?

Carefully research the solo requirements of your top choice colleges. You will see requirements that are as vague as "two or three solos of contrasting styles" while other schools will be slightly more specific, asking for "two contrasting movements of a concerto or sonata from the Baroque or Classical period and one movement of a contrasting work of your choice." Some schools will be very specific in their solo requirements. Let’s look at three schools’ solo requirements for Bb clarinet:

  • The Butler School of Music at the University of Texas
    • Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622 – 1st movement
    • Another piece of the applicant’s choosing from the standard grade six solo repertoire
  • The Oberlin College and Conservatory
    • First movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto
    • Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet, Movement II
  • The Eastman School of Music
    • First Movement of the Mozart Concerto in A major, K,622(measure 57 to downbeat of measure 154)
    • Debussy Premiere Rhapsodie or other French concours solo
    • A solo work of the auditioner’s choice

Don’t be surprised if a college asks you to list your solo repertoire on your application! Some schools require it. Julliard School tells applicants "as part of the online application, you are required to submit your proposed live audition repertoire for review. An insufficient or incomplete audition repertoire may affect consideration for admission. At the live audition, at least one major solo of the applicant’s choice selected from the repertoire list provided must be performed from memory."

Diversify to Succeed

Here are some guidelines for curating your own solo repertoire:

  • Have at least seven solo compositions prepared and listed
    • Three compositions should be from the Baroque and/or Classical periods
    • One piece from the Romantic period
    • One from the Impressionistic period
    • Two from 20th – 21st Century
  • In your seven pieces, have at least one multi-movement concerto and one sonata.

With some thought and a lot of preparation, you will shine in your audition!

Keep Practicing,

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO