The live audition is an opportunity for you to showcase your current level of musicianship, potential for growth, and readiness to succeed in our unique learning environment. We focus on performance, improvisation, sight-reading, and ear training because we seek students who are prepared to study and master all elements of their craft.
If you are interested in applying for the Bachelor of Arts program, visit the interview guidelines page to learn about the live assessment.
Anyone visiting our Boston or New York campuses are required to be fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their audition, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of their audition. Do not visit our campuses if you are sick, experiencing symptoms, or have come in close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID. Masks are required indoors and must cover your nose and mouth. Select programs may permit unmasking during the audition on a limited basis.
If attending an off-site audition (not on one of our campuses), please comply with the venue's COVID policy in addition to these requirements.
What the Audition Entails
Details about each component of the audition are outlined below. Please be sure to review the additional guidelines by instrument.
Your prepared piece must be:
- performed live (it cannot be prerecorded—you must be able to demonstrate live performance skills);
- three to five minutes in length; and
- performed on your primary instrument (the instrument you select when you submit the application form).
If you change the instrument you wish to audition on after submitting your application form, please email your enrollment officer at email@example.com.
Berklee embraces and values all musical styles, so you should perform a piece that you are comfortable with and that displays your strengths as a musician. Select a piece that highlights what you feel represents your best abilities rather than a piece you think the audition team wants to hear.
Some examples that may help with your selection include the following:
- A tune from a well-known artist or band (any style)
- A standard or jazz tune (which may include blues and rhythm changes) with your own improvisation
- A composition from the instrumental/voice repertoire or a movement, sonata, concerto, or etude
- A transcription of a well-known artist's solo
Producers and Electronic Musicians
If you create music digitally using a computer, software, and hardware, you may qualify for the electronic digital instrument (EDI) program. Learn more about the EDI program.
Composers and Songwriters
If composing or songwriting is your primary focus, you may choose to perform an original piece on your primary instrument that showcases your individual style. Your original piece should be no longer than three minutes, and you should also prepare a second piece from the above listing (no longer than three minutes).
If you are a singer-songwriter, please note that you must choose one principal instrument for the audition. For example, if you play guitar and sing, you must choose to be assessed on either guitar or voice (not both).
You will improvise over a short instrumental progression or drum beat. You should be prepared to play or sing over a standard I-IV-V blues progression. If you audition online, the faculty adjudicators will share a backing track file with you, which gives you the chance to improvise in-time.
Explore practice exercises for improvisation and blues.
You will be asked to read a written notation example and play it on your instrument with the correct pitches and note durations. The examples range from basic to complex in order for the audition team to gauge your reading ability.
Accommodations for Prospective Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
To receive sheet music in Braille for this portion of the audition, contact the auditions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be asked to participate in exercises including the following:
- Call and response: playing, clapping, or singing back short rhythms and melodies
- Identifying intervals and chord qualities
- Pitch matching: singing or playing back a series of pitches
What to Bring
Audition rooms are typically equipped with a piano, a drum set, guitar and bass amplifiers, a PA system, and music stands. You need to supply the following:
- Your instrument: You must bring your instrument to the audition if you play acoustic or electric bass, brass, guitar, hand percussion, a string instrument (including the harp, mandolin, and banjo), or woodwinds.
- Your accompaniment/backing track: If you require accompaniment for your prepared piece, you may bring an accompanist or a smartphone. Berklee does not provide an accompanist to applicants at auditions. If you are interested in hiring an accompanist and need help finding someone, please contact our Career Center at email@example.com.
- Your cables/adapters: You must bring any necessary cables and adapters for your instrument.
If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 617-747-2579.