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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, 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 best consideration, performing an on-campus audition is recommended. If circumstances prevent participation in the required on-campus audition/interview, department approval is required.

  • January 24, 2020
  • January 31, 2020  
  • February 7, 2020
  • February 14, 2020
  • February 17, 2020
  • Regional Audition date TBD - Washington D.C.-area
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. Students should plan to spend most of the day on campus, with the first session beginning promptly at 9:00 AM. Check-in locations as well as other important details will be distributed via email prior to your scheduled audition date. Specific audition times will be distributed at check-in.

The audition day includes the following:

  • Message from the Jordan College of the Arts Associate Dean.
  • Conversation with the School of Music Director and students.
  • Tours of the Music facilities, Schrott Center for the Arts, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, Clowes Memorial Hall, and the Butler University campus.
  • Financial aid session.
  • Observation of classes and rehearsals.
  • Audition and/or Interview (specific audition time provided at check-in)
Schedule an Audition Date

To schedule an audition, you must first complete your academic application and JCA Music Checklist items. See the School of Music Application Process above.

What should I prepare for my audition?

Please see "Audition Requirements" in the tab below.

Audition Requirements

Audition requirements for music majors are listed by instrument area below. 

Brass and Woodwinds

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

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)

Each audition is scheduled for approximately 5-7 minutes. An accompanist is provided for the audition only, not for warm-up. Please bring a copy of music for the accompanist in a ringed binder.

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.
  • Sight-reading   

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

Each audition is scheduled for 30 minutes and includes an interview. Be prepared for sight reading on snare drum, marimba, and timpani.

ALL Majors be prepared to play:

  • Snare Drum—One solo or etude of student’s choice (example: Delecluse, Albright, Peters, Cirone, Goldenberg, Wilcoxin, Pratt or any equivalent.) *Encouraged but not required - perform two snare drum solos: a concert snare solo/etude and a rudimental snare solo/etude.
  • Marimba and/or Vibraphone or Xylophone—One solo of student’s choice (example: G.H. Green rag, Peters, Stout, Abe, Bach, Smadbeck, Sammut, Musser, Rosauro or any equivalent.) *Encouraged but not required - perform two marimba solos: a 2-mallet solo and a 4-mallet solo.
  • Timpani—One solo or etude (for 3-4 timpani preferred) of student’s choice (example: Goodman, Vic Firth, Peters, Delecluse, Schinstine or any equivalent)
  • Drum Set (optional)—Demonstration of various styles: rock/funk, jazz, latin (bossa nova, samba, songo, mambo, calypso/soca, etc.) and/or prepared solo

Be prepared for both a 30 minute interview with the composition faculty and an audition with the applied faculty in your area of study. Bring three to six scores of your original work; recordings of these pieces are recommended but not required.

Jazz Studies

In addition to the general audition (see above), Jazz Studies prospects must complete a supplemental 15-minute audition with the following:


  • 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

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.  


Adding an Emphasis requires an audition and/or interview, as well as the approval of the appropriate music faculty. Be prepared for a supplemental 10-15 audition and/or interview when selecting an emphasis in the following area: jazz studies, composition, history, theory, and piano pedagogy.

Placement Exams

1) Music Theory Placement Exam (online; Due April 12 for music majors)

  • 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: Via Moodle at using your Butler username and password to login. If you have any trouble logging in, please contact the IT Help Desk at or 317-940-4357.
  • Deadline for submission: April 12, 2019
  • 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 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.

2) Keyboard Skills Placement Exam (in-person; Due at New Student Registration)


Exam 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: Register for an on-campus New Student Registration Day** (preferred). After registering, you will be contacted by the School of Music office with the time and location of your Keyboard Skills Exam, which will be part of your New Student Registration Day schedule. **For students who do not/cannot attend an on-campus, New Student Registration Day, the exam will be scheduled during Welcome Week (orientation) in August.
Deadline for completion: Prior to the start of classes in the fall (August 28, 2019)
When will results be posted? You will know the results of the exam directly after completing it.
What if I don’t pass the exam? If you take the exam at an on-campus, New Student Registration Day (preferred), you will be provided with immediate feedback on the next steps for remedial coursework over the summer. If you take the exam during Welcome Week, you will be required to take keyboard skills tutoring in addition to your regular coursework during the fall semester.

Additional Details

All incoming music majors (except for piano majors) take a Keyboard Skills Placement Test when they arrive on campus in the spring or summer to register for classes on New Student Registration Day. The test assesses 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

There is nothing for the students to specifically prepare for the placement test. However, we encourage students who have not little to no keyboard/piano experience to take private lessons focused on the skills listed aboev, utilize online or software-based training focused on keyboard/theory/musicianship skills, and/or individual practice. While the keyboard placement exam is simply for placement, and has no bearing on a student's admission into the School of Music, passing the exam is important for students in order to stay on track with the proper course sequence for music majors. If you have questions about the exam, please contact Prof. DJ Smith at or

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