Audition for SOA

Orchestra Program Summary

In the School of the Arts Orchestras, string majors learn the technical and musical skills they will need to be successful in advanced level middle and high school orchestras and to be successful in Regional, State and National Competitions. The individual and orchestral education that students receive at SOA will prepare them for college level orchestras. This includes the study of classical technique; how to hold and manipulate the instrument to produce desired tones, as well as developing an understanding of rhythm, pitch, articulation, style, dynamics, phrasing, and more. Students also have the opportunity to create their own music, listen and discuss music performed by others and learn the theory that applies to their musical education.

The success of the SOA orchestras depends in part upon a balanced numbers of violins, violas, cellos and basses. Students and parents must be aware that instrumentation needs are considered when accepting students. In middle school, there is often more need for viola, cello and string bass. In high school there is more opportunity to be able to accept all instruments, but also with consideration to instrumentation needs. For this reason, students/parents should let adjudicators know if they are interested or would be willing to change to an instrument that may be needed.

Audition Process

Students must be residents of Charleston County to audition for SOA. The CCSD Magnet School Registration process usually begins in late December/early January of the year prior to the school year for enrollment. Parents must register their child for an audition through the CCSD website; if you have difficulty, please call SOA and our admissions staff can help. Once the child is registered for an audition, they will be given an audition date and time, usually in late February/early March. Students are to show up at least 30 minutes prior to their audition time to check in at the front office, find the audition room, unpack and warm up. The audition usually takes between 5 and 8 minutes per student. Parents must remain in the parent waiting area; parents are not allowed in the audition room or warm up room. Results are mailed out after the audition process is complete in mid March.

Orchestra Audition Expectations

In the audition, students will demonstrate their musical and technical ability on their instrument by performing a prepared solo, required scales and a sight reading sample. The scoring of their performance is based on correct bow hold and instrument position, the accuracy of pitch and rhythm, and the production of an even, solid tone. The minimum requirements are listed below, however students who are able to play more challenging scales and solos are encouraged to do so, but only if they can play the harder repertoire successfully.

Scales should be played in tune with excellent position and tone, demonstrating full bows at a consistent tempo (quarter = 40). Solos should be performed in tune, with excellent position and tone at the correct musical tempo. To demonstrate their sight reading ability, students will be shown a sample of music for 30 seconds and then asked to play it back on their instrument demonstrating correct pitch, rhythms and bowings.

Orchestra Audition Requirements: Students may play solos or scales that are more difficult than these minimum requirements.

    • 6th Grade: A. Two one-octave major scales. B. Any solo from, or equivalent to Suzuki Book 1. C. Sight Reading
    • 7th Grade: A. Two two-octave major scales. B. Any solo from, or equivalent to Suzuki Book 2. C. Sight Reading
    • 8th Grade: A. Two-octave C, G and D Major scales. B. Any solo from Suzuki Book 3/equivalent C. Sight Reading
    • 9th Grade: A. Two-octave F and B-flat major scales. B. Any solo from Suzuki Book 4/equivalent.C. Sight Reading
    • 10th Grade: A. Three-octave D and G major scales. B. Any solo from Suzuki Book 5/equivalent. C. Sight Reading
    • 11th Grade: A. Three-octave D & G melodic minor scales. B. Any solo from Suzuki Book 6/equivalent. C. Sight Reading

Things you need to know first:

High School string students are encouraged to begin their advancing string studies in Chamber Orchestra; they are expected spend a year in each class before promoting to the next level. Rising 9th grade students who demonstrate exceptional gift (by performing in 8th Grade All-State Orchestra, for example) are permitted to audition for Symphony Orchestra. Students are only permitted to audition for “Sinfonietta” after they have demonstrated consistent musical and academic maturity in the High School Symphony Orchestra for at least one year. Exceptions are only made for older students who have moved in to the SOA Orchestra from another school.

During the spring audition process, Dr. Selby will determine the instrumentation needs of each ensemble and also how the qualifying Symphony students will be divided between Symphony Tech (Level 2) and Sinfonietta (Level 3). Symphony students who have demonstrated consistent satisfactory academic maturity (ability to keep track of their instrument, music, concert dates, and maintain good grades in both major classes) and who earn the highest audition scores will be recommended for the SOA Sinfonietta.

According to the School of the Arts Artistic Probation Policy, students must maintain an 80% average in all major classes. Students with grades below 80% for more than one quarter in a major class are required to re-audition for the performing ensemble they are in. Symphony students will re-audition for Symphony, and Chamber students will re-audition for Chamber Orchestra. Probationary Symphony students who do not pass the Symphony Audition will drop down a level to the Chamber Orchestra; Chamber Orchestra students who do not pass their audition will return to their home school.