Applying to Music

Ready to experience Music & More? Take a look at the application and audition information in the tabs below.

The following steps must be completed in order to successfully apply to the School of Music at Butler University. Students are encouraged to submit applications and accompanying materials by the Nov. 1 Early Action Deadline for prime scholarship consideration.

Step 1: Complete the Common App indicating a Music major. NOTE: Students considering a Music Major OR a Double Major with Music and another area should choose “Music” as their first major on either application in order to receive the proper supplemental application materials and to be considered for music scholarship. Both applications will also require the submission of:

  • High School Transcripts
  • Transfer students only: College Transcripts
  • Writing Sample
  • ACT/SAT Scores

Step 2: Complete the Checklist items as required by the School of Music which also includes:

  • Music Letter of Recommendation from private instructor and/or ensemble director
  • Piano students: a letter of recommendation from your private piano instructor is required
  • Voice students: you must pass a pre-screening before being invited for a live audition, see pre-screening requirements in the “Audition Requirements” tab.

Step 3: Select an Audition Date. Voice applicants: you will not be able to select an audition date until you submit and pass the pre-screening (see “Audition Requirements”). Please note the pre-screening is due at the time of your application submission.

Important Application Deadlines

  • November 1: Early Action (students are encouraged to apply by the Early Action deadline for full academic scholarship consideration and honors program eligibility)
  • February 1: Regular Decision

Get Started

Begin your application by visiting the Office of Admission website.

Audition Dates for Fall 2023 Entry

All auditions completed by February 20, 2023 are considered for a Jordan College of the Arts Award.  For best scholarship consideration, performing an on-campus audition is recommended. Although we prefer to conduct auditions in person, we recognize that this may not be feasible for everyone. To request a virtual audition option, please contact  

Audition Dates for Fall 2023 Entry:

  • Friday, January 20, 2023
  • Friday, January 27, 2023
  • Friday, February 3, 2023
  • Friday, February 10, 2023
  • Friday, February 17, 2023
  • Monday, February 20, 2023 (President’s Day)


  • How do I schedule an audition? To schedule an audition, you must first complete your academic application and JCA Music Checklist items. See the School of Music Application Process above.
  • When will I get my audition time? You will receive an audition day itinerary, including your audition time, a few days before your scheduled audition date. In the meantime, you should plan to arrive on campus around 8:30 AM on your scheduled audition date.
  • What if I have another audition scheduled for the same day? We discourage students from double-booking auditions for the same date. If you have extenuating travel circumstances, please contact the School of Music office at or 317-940-9065.
  • What should I prepare for my audition? Please see “Audition Requirements” in the tab below.
  • Do I have to take a Music Theory Exam? A music theory placement exam is required; however, you will not complete this during your audition day. Instead, you will receive a link to our online music theory placement exam after you receive your audition results (~3 weeks after you audition).
  • How will I audition virtually? We will utilize Zoom for all virtual auditions.

Brass and Woodwinds

Each audition is scheduled for 20 minutes and includes a brief interview.

ALL Majors, be prepared to play:

  • One movement or etude at a faster tempo, displaying rhythmic and technical skills
  • One movement or etude at a slower tempo, displaying lyrical playing (may be movements or large sections from the same work)
  • All major scales and a full-range chromatic scale from memory, tongued and slurred (prepare all; committee will ask for specific scales)
  • Sight-reading


Pre-screening required for all voice applicants BEFORE being invited to a live audition. Pre-screening requirements: please record yourself in front view performing one solo piece of repertoire, preferably an art song or aria, with accompaniment (live or pre-recorded track). Please state your name and the title of the piece at the start of the video. To submit your video, include the link to your online video (YouTube, DropBox, Vimeo, etc.) on your application. The pre-screening video is due when you submit your application.

If you pass the pre-screening and are invited to audition, you will select an audition date and perform a live, in-person audition. For the live audition, ALL majors, be prepared to perform:

  • Two classical art songs and/or arias (selections should be of contrasting style and most representative of your ability and training). Memorization is required. NOTE: You may bring one musical theatre piece in addition to the two classical art songs/arias. Questions about repertoire? Email
  • Brief interview

Additionally, auditioning voice students will complete a brief (5 minute) “basic musicianship assessment” as part of the voice audition process. Assessment may include any of the following (or similar exercises): matching pitches (vocally) that you hear, comparing high and low pitches that you hear, performing brief rhythmic patterns and melodies at sight, echoing back brief rhythms or melodies that you hear, and singing a familiar tune from memory. Questions? Email


Memorization and sight reading are required. 

ALL Majors, submit prior to the audition: 

  • A list of all repertoire studied, indicating which works have been performed
  • A letter of reference from the current private piano teacher

For Piano Performance and Performance+Music Ed:

  • A prelude and fugue by J.S. Bach from The Well-Tempered Clavier
  • A first or last movement from a classical sonata by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert
  • A composition from the Romantic, Impressionist, or Contemporary period that demonstrates advanced technical ability. Substantial single movements from larger works are acceptable.

For BA, BMA, Arts Admin, Composition, Jazz Studies, and Music Ed:

  • Two or more different works chosen from the following, totaling a minimum of ten minutes of music:
    • A contrapuntal work by J.S. Bach with a minimum of three voices, such as a Prelude and Fugue or a Sinfonia
    • A movement from a Classical-era sonata
    • A Romantic work
    • An Impressionist work
    • A work from the 20th/21st Century


Each audition is scheduled for 20 minutes and includes an interview. Be prepared for sight reading. 

For Performance and Performance+Music Ed:

  • Violin, Viola, and Cello:
    • A movement of a concerto (Classic, Romantic, 20th Cent.)
    • A movement of a sonata  (violin/viola/cello) or an etude (viola/cello)
    • A movement from a partita (violin) or solo suite by Bach
  • Bass:
    • A movement of a concerto
    • A movement from either a Baroque sonata or a Bach solo suite
    • An etude
  • Guitar:
    • 2-3 selections of contrasting styles
  • Harp:
    • A solo piece of your choosing
    • Cadenza from Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” (Nutcracker)
    • One movement from either Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, or Debussy’s Danse Sacree et Danse Profane, or Handel’s Concerto in B-flat

For BA, BMA, Arts Admin, Composition, Jazz Studies, and Music Ed (violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, harp):

  • Two contrasting pieces or movements,
  • Exception: Guitarists pursuing a Jazz Studies major are not required to complete a general/classical guitar audition. Only a Jazz guitar audition is required for the Jazz Studies major, see “Jazz Studies” section below.


Each audition is scheduled for 25 minutes and includes an interview. Be prepared for sight reading on snare drum, marimba, and timpani.

ALL Majors be prepared to play:

  • Snare Drum: Solo or etude of student’s choice (example: Cirone, Delecluse, Peters, Pratt, Wilcoxon or equivalent)     *Encouraged but not required* – perform both concert and rudimental snare solp.
  • Marimba (and/or Vibraphone or Xylophone): Solo of student’s choice (example: Abe, Bach, Green, Musser, Rosauro, Sammut, Stout or equivalent)     *Encouraged but not required* – perform both 2-mallet and 4-mallet solo
  • Timpani: Solo or etude of student’s choice for 3-4 timpani preferred (example: Delecluse, Goodman, Peters, Vic Firth or equivalent)
  • Drum Set, optional: Demonstration of various styles: Rock/Funk, Jazz, Jazz Waltz, Latin (Afro-Cuban, Bossa Nova, Mambo, Samba, Songo) and/or prepared solo

Supplemental Audition/Interview Requirements

Arts Administration–Music

In addition to the general audition, students pursuing a major in Arts Administration must also interview with Arts Administration faculty. For more info, visit the Arts Administration website.


In addition to the general audition, students pursuing a major or emphasis in Composition must also interview with Composition faculty. Please provide three to six scores of your original work on your JCA Music Supplement, or email to, in advance of your audition day/interview time. Students pursuing the BM in Composition degree are encouraged to also provide recordings of these pieces if available.

Jazz Studies

In addition to the general audition (see above), students pursuing a Jazz Studies major or emphasis must complete a supplemental 15-minute audition with the following requirements. Jazz guitarists pursuing the Jazz Studies major only need to complete a Jazz audition, a classical/general audition is not required. Horn players, pianists, guitarists, vocalists, and bassists will play/sing the melody and improvise. Bassists will also be asked to play bass lines. Guitarists and pianists will also be asked to comp. Drummers will demonstrate the various styles associated with the tunes. The auditions will be accompanied by one of the Jamey Aebersold play-a-long tracks or a live rhythm section when available. Memorization of melodies and chord changes is required for horns, vocals, piano, bass, and guitar. Memorization of melodies and chord changes is encouraged for drummers.

NOTE: For virtual auditions, students are asked to provide their own backing track using Ireal Pro, Band in a Box, or Jamey Aebsesold. Questions? Email


  • Medium tempo blues selected from the following list: Sandu, Billie’s Bounce, Now’s the Time, Tenor Madness, Blue Monk, Everyday I have the Blues, Rocks in My Bed
  • Jazz standard selected from the following list: Oleo, Autumn Leaves, There Will Never Be Another You, Recordame, Blue Bossa, Afternoon in Paris, Take the A Train, Ladybird
  • Ballad selected from the following list: Body and Soul, Misty, What’s New?, In A Sentimental Mood
  • Be prepared for sight reading


  • Bossa Nova: Speak Low, Corcovado, Triste, If You Never Come to Me, Nature Boy
  • Swing: Autumn Leaves, How High the Moon, In A Mellow Tone, A Train, Taking A Chance on Love
  • Ballad: Tenderly, Misty, But Beautiful, In A Sentimental Mood, Skylark, Here’s That Rainy Day

Music Education

In addition to the general audition, students pursuing a major in Music Education must also interview with music education faculty. You do not need to bring any additional materials to the interview, although resumes are welcome.

Music Therapy Dual Degree

A supplemental Music Therapy interview and basic singing assessment will be required of all Music Therapy Dual Degree applicants. The interview and assessment will be approximately 15 minutes and will be conducted with a Music Therapy representative from IUPUI, our partner institution for this degree program. See details below:

  • Interview: Please prepare these questions in advance of your interview. You will be asked about you are interest in the Music Therapy program, your music experiences thus far, etc.**
  • Basic singing assessment: You will be asked to sing a solo piece of your choosing, a cappella, in the key of your choosing. Some suggested songs are America, the Beautiful, Down in the Valley, Home on the Range, Scarborough Fair, Happy Birthday, or This Land Is Your Land.
    • **Applicants for the Music Therapy + Music Education Dual Degree program will have a separate interview with the Butler University Music Education faculty.

Prospective music majors must complete a Keyboard Skills Assessment and a Music Theory Placement Exam prior to course registration.  See details for each assessment below.

Keyboard Skills Assessment (completed on audition days)

  • Assessment purpose/details: To determine if students need remedial keyboard skills work or are ready to begin Keyboard Skills 1 or higher in the fall. Covers basic keyboard skills such as finding and naming keys, identifying and playing notes on treble and bass clef, identifying basics of meter, recognizing and naming key signatures, etc. NOTE: Piano majors are exempt from this exam.
  • How to schedule assessment: You will be assigned a keyboard skills assessment time on your audition day. Students who complete a virtual audition will complete a virtual assessment when possible.
  • What should I prepare for the assessment? There is nothing for you to specifically prepare for the assessment. However, we encourage students who have little to no keyboard/piano experience to take private lessons focused on the skills listed below, utilize online or software-based training focused on keyboard/theory/musicianship skills, and/or individual practice. While the keyboard skills assessment is simply for placement, and has no bearing on your admission into the School of Music, being eligible for Keyboard Skills 1 or above during your first semester is important in order to stay on track with the proper course sequence for music majors.
  • What happens during the assessment? You will meet with a music faculty member who will assess your abilities in the following areas:
    • Name of the keys on the keyboard.
    • Identify, read, and play notes on the score in treble and bass clefs.
    • Identify and play intervals on the keyboard and the score.  Includes perfect, major, minor, diminished, augmented.
    • Recognize and name key signatures.
    • Identify the basics of meter, including simple and compound meter and all possible time signatures.
    • Identify and play the basics of rhythm, including note values, rests, and ties.
    • Identify and play diads and root position triads.  The latter includes major, minor, diminished, and augmented.
    • Sight singing: solfege

Music Theory Placement Exam (online, after passing an audition)

  • Exam purpose/details: To determine if students need remedial theory or are ready for Theory 1 or higher. Covers basic “music fundamentals,” including notation of pitch, basics of rhythm and meter, major and minor scales and key signatures, notation of intervals, and triads.
  • How to access: The Music Theory Placement Exam will be located in the Butler Placement Exams portal in Canvas, which you will receive access to with your Virtual Registration details via email. You must complete the placement exam before scheduling an advising appointment.
  • Deadline for submission: Prior to scheduling your Virtual Registration advising appointment.
  • What if I have AP Music Theory credit/received 4 or 5 on the AP exam? You are still required to take the placement exam, but will very likely pass and be invited to test out of Theory 1.
  • When will results be posted? You will be notified of whether you need to take a remedial theory course at your Virtual Registration advising appointment. Students with a very high score on the exam will be invited, via email, to take Music Theory 1 exemption exam.
  • What if I don’t pass the exam? You will receive notification from our theory department regarding next steps for remedial theory work, this will be communicated to you at your Virtual Registration advising appointment.

Additional Details

All students who audition for admission into the School of Music are required to take a Music Theory Placement Test which will be administered online AFTER admitted students submit their deposit/accept their offer of admission.  The test determines student placement in an appropriate theory course should the student decide to attend Butler. The student’s score on this test has no effect on admission status. The test covers basic music “fundamentals,” including notation of pitch, basics of rhythm and meter, major and minor scales and key signatures, notation of intervals, and triads.

Students who score 60% or higher on the Music Theory Placement Test are eligible to enroll in MT 101 (Theory 1). Students who score lower than 60% are required to complete MT 100 (Elements of Music) before enrolling in MT 101. MT 100 is offered every spring semester, plus as a special intensive “Theory Camp” every August, immediately before the start of the fall semester. (See below for details on Theory Camp.)

If the student does not pass the Music Theory Placement Test but completes a formal music theory course between the time the test is taken and the start of Theory Camp (MT 100), the student is permitted to take the placement test a second time. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Coordinator of Music Theory (Dr. Jeff Gillespie) to schedule the re-testing, after completing the theory course.

Theory Camp (Summer session offering of MT 100)

In mid-August, we offer an eight-day, intensive version of MT 100 (Elements of Music).  This August session allows students to complete MT 100 before the start of the fall semester, so that they may move into MT 101 in the fall and not be behind schedule in their music theory sequence. Students are allowed to move into their dorm rooms early.  The class meets from 9 am-4 pm each day. We offer various social activities as part of this “camp,” and it is a great opportunity for students to form new friendships and become acquainted with the campus.

For more information about Theory Camp or for any questions about music theory, contact Dr. Jeff Gillespie, Coordinator of Music Theory, at or 317-940-6416.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit in Music Theory

Butler University accepts the non-aural subscore of the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in music theory. However, due to the nature of the online placement exam process, all students, regardless of AP Music Theory test scores are required to complete the online Music Theory Placement Exam. Students who score a 4 or 5 on the music theory AP test and/or a score of 60% or higher on the Butler Music Theory Placement Exam are exempt from MT 101 (Theory 1). Students who score a 4 or 5 on the AP exam will be invited to complete the MT 111 Aural Skills exemption exam during Orientation week.

International Baccalaureate Credit

Students who score a 5-7 on the Music HL International Baccalaureate Exam receive the following six credits: two Music Theory (MT) 200-level elective credits, two Music History (MH) 200-level elective credits, and two Applied Music (AM) 200-level elective credits.

Students who score a 5-7 on the Music SL International Baccalaureate Exam receive the following four credits: one Music Theory (MT) 200-level elective credit, two Music History (MH) 200-level elective credits, and one Applied Music (AM) 200-level elective credit.

Financial assistance may come from several different sources. Merit scholarships and Jordan College of the Arts Awards are offered to students who demonstrate a strong record of academic excellence in high school or display promise in the performing arts. Please visit the Office of Financial Aid website to learn more about financial aid options.

For Music majors:

  • Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) Awards in music are merit-based awards available for music majors only. Students will be considered for a JCA Award in music during their audition for admission into the School of Music. Auditions must be completed by February 20 for JCA Award consideration. Notification of any award available to the student will be communicated in mid-March.

For questions or additional information, contact Amy Barnes, Associate Director of Recruitment, Jordan College of the Arts at 317-940-9656 or