Music Auditions

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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 submit a portfolio for review.

Admission Process

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

  1. Apply for admission
  2. Schedule an audition on-campus
    *If distance prevents you from attending a live audition, you may send a recorded audition. Follow the same directions as for a live audition. See notes below regarding tips on submitting a recorded audition.

*Please note that for on-campus auditions, students are required to complete the online Application for Admission before securing an audition date.*

Jazz performers

Prepare three selections, choosing at least two from the following list. Be prepared to show improvisational skills. The third selection is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your creativity and unique style.

Classical performers

Classical Singers

  1. A Classical song in Italian
    Acceptable songs from 24 Italian songs and arias by G. Schirmer, songs by Donaudy, Rossini, Donizetti, and Italian arias by Handel and Mozart.  Please do NOT sing repertoire by Verdi or Puccini.
  2. A Classical song in English
    Acceptable songs - American and English Art songs and folk songs, Gilbert and Sullivan light opera arias, by the following composers: Dowland, Britten, Purcell, Handel, John Duke, Ricky Ian Gordon, Ned Rorem, Samuel Barber.
  3. A song in a style of your choice
    Another classical selection from the categories above, a classical song in another language (French, German, Spanish), a musical theatre selection or an original composition.

Please feel free to contact Natalie Lerch at for more guidance and/or suggestions.

Classical Instrumentalists

1 Etude

1 contrasting etude or movement from a sonata, concerto or other work from the standard repertoire for your instrument

1 selection of your choice with a preference for a work written since 1945 or an original composition


Submit scores/lead sheets and recordings of three original works to our Decision Desk portal. We will review and contact you regarding a live audition.

Recordings may feature live musicians or a computer realization of your music; 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 composing, should apply for admission to Cornish as performance, not composition, students. You will have opportunities to take composition courses once admitted as a performance student.

Note: Cornish seeks musicians of all backgrounds and styles. If you do not fit into one of the above categories, use Decision Desk to share your music before you apply. We will review and contact you regarding a live audition.

ON- CAMPUS Auditions

At the Audition weekend you will be required to perform three selections in a live audition for a faculty panel.

Auditions are conducted at our historic Capitol Hill campus, Kerry Hall, 710 East Roy St., Seattle, WA 98102.

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 interview with members of the music faculty (10 minutes)
  • Brief placement tests for theory, ear training, and piano (30 minutes total)


  • Jazz Performers – 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.
  • Classical vocalists - Cornish will provide piano accompaniment. Bring multiple copies of any sheet music for both yourself and the accompanist.
  • Classical instrumentalists – No accompaniment will be provided.  You may choose to bring your own accompanist.
  • 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.

*If distance prevents you from attending a live audition, you may send a recorded audition. Follow the same directions as for a live audition. See notes below regarding tips on submitting a recorded audition.

Tips for submitting Audition Recordings

  1. Build your online account here
  2. Your three recordings should total no more than 15 minutes in length.
  3. You may submit either audio or video recordings, or a combination of both.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Composers should submit performances by live musicians whenever possible. Sibelius or Finale computer realizations are fine, but there is no substitute for the sound of “live” musicians playing your composition, even if every note of the performance is not perfect.

List of tunes for Jazz Vocalists. Select two from the following:

  • The Girl From Ipanema, Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • Honeysuckle Rose, Fats Waller
  • I Concentrate On You, Cole Porter;
  • Misty, Johnny Burke
  • Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington
  • On A Clear Day, Burton Lane
  • Summertime, George Gershwin
  • Take The A Train, Billy Strayhorn

List of Tunes for Jazz Instrumentalists. Select two from the following:

(I Got Rhythm changes): Oleo, Sonny Rollins
(Standard): Just Friends, Klemmer/Lewis
(Contemporary): Fee Fi Fo Fum, Wayne Shorter
(Bossa): Manha De Carnaval, Luis Bonfa
(Blues): Billie's Bounce, Charlie Parker
(Ballad): Peace, Horace Silver
(Waltz): Someday My Prince Will Come, Churchill/Morey
(Funk): Cantaloupe Island, Herbie Hancock