Undergraduate Auditions

Each year, Bienen School faculty will listen to thousands of the nation’s most promising young musicians to determine who will be selected for admission to Northwestern University.

Step-by-step instructions for auditioning for the Bienen School of Music are outlined below.

1. Submit the Bienen School Supplement

In most cases, a performance audition is required.* Please note that auditions for fall 2021 admission will be 100% virtual. In the event that you are unable to take part in a live virtual audition, please contact the Office of Music Admission as soon as possible to discuss submission options: musiclife@northwestern.edu

*NOTE: Bachelor of Arts and Music Composition applications do not have an audition component, but must submit music application materials via our Bienen School Supplement following the deadlines listed below.  

Start Your Bienen School Supplement

Important Audition Dates

Registration Rule
November 23, 2020*
Early Decision live virtual auditions must be completed by || *NOTE: More information about Early Decision auditions will be sent directly to applicants.
February 4-14, 2021*
Regular Decision live virtual auditions || *NOTE: More information about Regular Decision auditions will be sent directly to applicants.

Composition applicants for Regular Decision have until February 1, 2021 to upload the required portfolio. However, if you wish to apply to both the Composition program and to a performance major, you should submit a second Supplement with the necessary performance major prescreening (if applicable) and audition requirements. 

2. Prepare for Your Audition

See Audition Requirements

We recommend starting early by taking the audition requirements to your music teacher. Prepare for your audition by bringing musical selections that best showcase what you do well.  It is better to beautifully perform a piece that requires moderate skill, as opposed to a mediocre performance of a very difficult piece.

For prescreening recordings and final audition recordings, it is not necessary to have them made in a professional studio. The most important aspect is that the sound quality of your recording is excellent, so find a good microphone and play your recording for multiple people before you submit it.


Voice applicants are required to submit prescreening recordings with accompaniment. 

Jazz Studies applicants require prescribed combo instrumentation, as described on the Audition and Program Requirements page.

Classical instrumental prescreening recordings and auditions must be unaccompanied, with the exception of cello, flute, saxophone, and violin applicants. Flute applicants are encouraged to submit prescreening materials with accompaniment. All classical instrumental auditions will be unaccompanied.  If you are performing a required excerpt that includes measures of rests, it is not necessary to count out the rests—you can move on to your next entrance.

3. Audition on Campus or by Online Recording

Audition On Campus*

*NOTE: The Bienen School will be holding virtual auditions for fall 2021 admission.

To be considered for an on-campus audition, you must submit the Bienen School Supplement by December 1, 2020 and upload any required prescreening recordings. If you are invited for the final round of auditions, you will receive notification after your Common Application has been submitted. This notification will include information on how to schedule your audition. Applicants whose program does not require prescreening will be contacted with information on how to schedule an audition.

Do not book your travel arrangements until you have received official, written confirmation from the Bienen School of Music. Information on parking, hotel accommodations, transportation, and on-campus events will be sent with confirmation of an on-campus audition.

Early Decision Auditions are held on an ad-hoc basis during the month of November.

NOTE: Applicants applying via QuestBridge to the Bienen School must submit prescreening by October 19, 2020 and complete their performance audition (or upload a final recording) before November 13, 2020, regardless of whether applying Early or Regular Decision.

On Campus Audition Checklist

Audition By Recording

If you cannot complete an on-campus audition, you must upload a recording to use as your final audition. If you are not planning to visit campus for the live audition, upload your final recording by February 1, 2021.

NOTE: Applicants auditioning by recording do not receive prescreening decisions; applicants will only receive a final admission decision.

Recorded Audition Checklist

Prepare for your audition

View Audition & Program Requirements