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Music Department Admission

The Music Department at Cornish College of the Arts requires all vocal and instrumental performance applicants seeking a Bachelor of Music degree to audition for admission to the program; music composition applicants must also submit a portfolio for review.
Applicants to the Artist Diploma in Early Music program should follow a separate application process outlined here:

The Cornish Music Department employs a three-step application and admission process.

  • First, apply for admission. You can begin your application for admission to Cornish College of the Arts here:
  • Next, submit three audio or video audition recordings. You can upload your prescreening audition recordings here:
  • Finally, if you are invited to the Merit Scholarship & Admission Live Audition weekend at Cornish on March 1-2, 2014 you will be required to perform up to three selections in a live audition.

The Pre-Screening Submission Process

Jazz vocalist or classical violinist, tenor saxophonist or countertenor, all applicants for admission to the Music Department must submit three audio or video recordings. All pre-screening recordings are submitted online. You can upload your Music prescreening audition recordings here:

The Music Department only accepts and reviews online submissions. Do NOT submit CDs, DVDs, audiotapes, cassettes, MIDI files, or videotapes, as these will NOT be reviewed. Our online submission process will ask you to list the following information for each recording that you submit:

  • Title of the selection
  • Composer
  • Instrumentation of the work
  • What instrument(s) or part you play on the recording

Students applying for admission to the Composition program will also be asked to submit scores or lead sheets for each selection submitted. These should be formatted as Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) files and can be produced using either a music notation software program such as Finale®and Sibelius® or by hand and then scanned.

Tips for Submitting Pre-Screening Audition Recordings

Here are a few tips that will help to ensure you submit online prescreening recordings that best represent you:

  • Your three recordings should total no more than 15 minutes in length.
  • You may submit either audio or video recordings, or a combination of both. There is no advantage to submitting one format over another.
  • The quality of the recording is not important; your performance is. Faced with the choice of a good quality recording of a poor performance, or a lousy recording of an excellent performance, choose the recording with the better performance.
  • Be sure we can hear you. Remember, you’re the one who is auditioning for admission, so if you’re submitting a recording with accompaniment or as part of an ensemble, please be sure to place the microphone properly so we can hear you prominently.
  • Audition on your strongest instrument. For example, if you intend to double on saxophone and flute, or violin and viola, or clarinet and bass clarinet, make sure that at least two of your three audition submission recordings feature you on your strongest instrument.
  • Record with an accompanist, not solo, unless the composition you’re performing is intended to be performed solo (for example, works for solo classical guitar). This is especially true for vocalists; you will always sound better with an accompanist.
  • Composers should submit performances by live musicians as opposed to computer MIDI realizations of their compositions whenever possible.
  • Performance applicants should submit complete, unedited recordings.

Early Auditions and Open House

For those students who would prefer to audition early, and not have to submit an online pre-screening submission, the Music Department hosts Early Auditions on November 16, 2013 and a Music Open House on November 17, 2013.

Vocal and Instrumental Performer Audition Requirements

Please prepare three selections, in contrasting style and tempi, totaling no more than 15 minutes. We recommend one composition or movement of a larger work in a slow-to-moderate tempo, another in a faster tempo in a contrasting style, and a third selection in a style of your choice. This third selection is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your creativity and unique style. Individual movements of larger works may be used; we especially encourage you to include contemporary works as well as traditional repertoire.

Discuss your audition selection choices with your private instructor and select three works that show you at your best. Faced with the choice of submitting a poor performance of a difficult work or a superb performance of an easier work, select the easier work. We want to hear you at your best.

Jazz instrumentalists or vocalists, please note: be sure to include at least one selection that demonstrates your improvisational skills.

Composition Audition Requirements

Students applying for admission to the Composition program should prepare recordings of three original works. Recordings may feature live musicians or a computer realization of your music; however, at minimum, at least one of the recordings must feature live musicians, and may include yourself.

Instrumentalists or vocalists, who would like to study composition but have limited experience to date composing, should apply for admission to Cornish as performance, not composition, students. You will have more opportunities to take composition courses once admitted as a performance student.

All Composition applicants must also include notated scores or lead sheets for each selection submitted. Label each score or lead sheet with the title of the piece and your name.

If You Are Invited for a Live Audition…

Should you be invited to the Merit Scholarship & Admission Live Audition weekend at Cornish on March 1-2, 2014 you will be required to perform up to three selections in a live audition for a faculty panel. Admissions counselors will do their best to make alternate arrangements for students unable to travel to Seattle for live auditions as well as international students.

All Merit Scholarship & Admission auditions are conducted on the Cornish campus at Kerry Hall, 710 East Roy St., Seattle, WA 98103.

Plan to arrive one hour prior to your scheduled audition time, so that you have adequate time to warm-up. Once you check in, we will assign you to a warm-up room. Your audition day will consist of three steps:

  • Your live audition (15 minutes max.)
  • An informal interview with members of the music faculty (10 minutes)
  • Brief placement tests for theory, eartraining, and piano (30 minutes total)

It is highly recommended that all vocal or instrumental performance students auditioning for admission to the Music Department perform with accompaniment. For your live audition you may bring your own accompanist or we will provide one for you at no charge.

If you require an accompanist, please bring enough copies of any sheet music for yourself and the accompanist(s). For classical or early music students we will provide piano or continuo accompaniment; for jazz students we will provide piano and bass accompaniment. A four-piece drum set, and guitar or bass amplifier will be provided for those who require them; jazz drummers should bring their own cymbals.

Composition applicants should bring three copies of any scores or lead sheets for the faculty panel to review along with recordings of three audition selections. These recordings can be on CD, DVD, or a laptop computer, either MacOS or Windows.

Final Decision

All applicants for admission will be notified of a final admission decision along with any merit scholarship awards approximately one month after the Merit Scholarship & Admission live audition weekend.