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The Wind Ensemble playing music
School of Music

Apply & Audition

Ready to experience Music & MORE?

Take a look at the application and audition information in the tabs below. 

Questions? Contact Courtney Trachsel in the School of Music office, music@butler.edu or 317-940-9065.

Application Process

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.

  1. Complete Butler Application or Common Application indicating a Music major**. Both applications will also require the submission of:
    • High School Transcripts
    • Transfer students only: College Transcripts
    • Writing Sample
    • ACT/SAT Scores
  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
    • For Piano students: a letter of recommendation from your private piano instructor is required
  3. Select an Audition Date (see "Audition Day Dates and Details" tab below)

**NOTE: Students considering a Music Major OR a Double Major with Music and another area should choose “Music” as their first major on their application in order to receive the proper supplemental application and be considered for music scholarship.

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 Day Dates and Details

Audition Dates

All auditions completed by February 19 are considered for a Jordan College of the Arts Award.  For prime scholarship consideration, performing an on-campus audition is recommended. If circumstances prevent participation in the required on-campus audition/interview, department approval is required.

  • Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Friday, January 31, 2020  
  • Friday, February 7, 2020
  • Friday, February 14, 2020
  • Monday, February 17, 2020 (President's Day)
Audition Day Information

Each audition day is a full-day event filled with activities and information designed to give you a glimpse inside the School of Music at Butler University. We believe this experience will give you first-hand look at what we mean by Music & More, and will ultimately help you make an informed college decision. During the audition day, students will be required to complete the following:

  • Audition on primary instrument/voice

  • Keyboard skills assessment. Read more under “Placement Exams” tab. Assessment is for placement purposes only; the assessment results have no bearing on admission or scholarship consideration. Piano majors are exempt from this assessment.

  • Voice students only--Basic musicianship assessment. Read more under “Audition Requirements” tab.

  • Supplemental audition or interview if pursuing a major in Music Education, Jazz Studies, Arts Administration, or Composition and/or an emphasis in Jazz Studies or Composition. Read more under “Audition Requirements” tab.

Schedule Overview

Students should plan to be on campus from about 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. Bolded items indicate a REQUIRED activity. All others are optional (but encouraged!). NOTE: This schedule is tentative and subject to change. You will receive a final, personalized itinerary at audition day check-in. If you have questions or concerns, please email music@butler.edu or call 317-940-9065.

Timeframe Activity
Early Morning (8:45-10:15 AM) Check-In
Welcome Session
Faculty & Student Showcase Recital
Information Sessions (i.e Music Education, Careers in Music, etc.)
Late Morning (~10:15 AM-Noon) Warm-Up times begin
Keyboard Skills Assessment appointments begin (~15 min)
Supplemental Jazz Auditions when applicable (~20 min)
Q&A’s with current music majors
Afternoon (Noon-5:00 PM)

Break for lunch
Ensemble and Combo Rehearsal observations
Financial Aid Info Session
Musicianship Assessments for Vocalists only (~10 min)
Auditions on primary instrument/voice (~20 min)
Supplemental Music Ed, Composition, and Arts Admin Interviews when applicable (~20 min)

Campus tour
Warm-Up times continue
Keyboard Skills Assessment appointments continue

FAQs
  • 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 a personalized itinerary with your audition time at audition day check-in. We are unable to provide audition times prior to check-in. All required and optional activities should wrap up by 5:00 PM.
  • 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 music@butler.edu 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).
  • What if I can’t make it to campus for an audition? If traveling to campus for an audition is a hardship, we will do our best to accommodate an alternative. Please contact the School of Music office at music@butler.edu for details.

Audition Requirements

All students must complete an audition on their primary instrument/voice. Additionally, any student pursuing a major in Music Education, Jazz Studies, Composition, or Arts Administration and/or an emphasis in Jazz Studies or Composition, must complete a supplemental audition or interview. Requirements for both the General Audition and the Supplemental Audition/Interview are listed below.

General Audition Requirements

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
Voice

Each audition is scheduled for approximately 5-7 minutes. An accompanist is provided for the audition only, not for warm-up. Please bring a clear and complete copy of music for the accompanist in a ringed binder. No loose sheets.

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.
  • 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 music@butler.edu.

Piano

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
Strings

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
Percussion

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

ALL Majors be prepared to play:

Snare Drum
Solo or etured of student's choice (example: Cirone, Delecluse, Peters, Pratt, Wilcoxon or equivalent)
*Encouraged but not required: perform both concert and rudimental snare solo*

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.

Composition

In addition to the general audition, students pursuing a major or emphasis in Composition must also interview with Composition faculty. Please bring three to six scores of your original work. For the major, recordings of these pieces are recommended but not required. 

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:

Instrumentalists:

  • 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

Vocalists:

  • 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

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.  

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.

Placement Exams

Prospective music majors must complete a Keyboard Skills Assessment and a Music Theory Placement Exam prior to course registration. The Keyboard Skills Assessment will take place during each student's audition day. The Music Theory Placement Exam will be administered online after the audition season is complete and students have received their School of Music admission decision (~mid-March). See details for each assessment below.

Keyboard Skills Assessment (during Audition Day)

Overview
  • 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 automatically be assigned to an assessment appointment during your audition day. The appointment time will be listed on your personalized itinerary. If extenuating circumstances prevent you from attending an on-campus audition day OR if you complete a regional audition, you will work with the School of Music office to schedule an alternative date/option.
  • 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; Due April 15 for music majors)

Overview
  • 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: Online access will be granted via email from music@butler.edu in mid-March after students have received their School of Music admission decision.
  • Deadline for submission: April 15, 2020 for students entering in the Fall 2020 term
  • 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 via email if you require remedial theory work OR if you are invited to test out of Theory 1.
  • What if I don’t pass the exam? You will receive notification from our theory department regarding next steps for remedial theory work.
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 students pass their music audition.  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.

Students who score 93% or higher on the Music Theory Placement Test will receive a special invitation to take an exemption exam for MT 101 (Theory 1) and MT 111 (Aural Skills 1). This exemption exam will be offered during “Welcome Week,” just a few days prior to the start of the fall semester. Details on the date and time of this exam will be provided in the invitation sent to eligible students, along with a list of topics to study.

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 jgillesp@butler.edu or 317-940-6416.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit in Music Theory

Butler University does accept the non-aural subscore of the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in music theory. Students who score a 4 or 5 on the music theory AP test are exempt from MT 101 (Theory 1) and may move directly into MT 102 (Theory 2) which is offered in the spring semester. Any student who earns exemption credit in music theory through the AP exams is invited to meet with the Coordinator of Music Theory during “Welcome Week” to take a placement test in aural skills.

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.

 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

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 admittance into the School of Music. Auditions must be completed prior to 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 atbarnes@butler.edu